Publications 2018

WWARN K13 Genotype-Phenotype Study Group. 2019. Association of mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum Kelch13 gene (Pf3D7_1343700) with parasite clearance rates after artemisinin-based treatments-a WWARN individual patient data meta-analysis. BMC Med, 17 (1), pp. 1. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum infections with slow parasite clearance following artemisinin-based therapies are widespread in the Greater Mekong Subregion. A molecular marker of the slow clearance phenotype has been identified: single genetic changes within the propeller region of the Kelch13 protein (pfk13; Pf3D7_1343700). Global searches have identified almost 200 different non-synonymous mutant pfk13 genotypes. Most mutations occur at low prevalence and have uncertain functional significance. To characterize the impact of different pfk13 mutations on parasite clearance, we conducted an individual patient data meta-analysis of the associations between parasite clearance half-life (PC1/2) and pfk13 genotype based on a large set of individual patient records from Asia and Africa. METHODS: A systematic literature review following the PRISMA protocol was conducted to identify studies published between 2000 and 2017 which included frequent parasite counts and pfk13 genotyping. Four databases (Ovid Medline, PubMed, Ovid Embase, and Web of Science Core Collection) were searched. Eighteen studies (15 from Asia, 2 from Africa, and one multicenter study with sites on both continents) met inclusion criteria and were shared. Associations between the log transformed PC1/2 values and pfk13 genotype were assessed using multivariable regression models with random effects for study site. RESULTS: Both the pfk13 genotypes and the PC1/2 were available from 3250 (95%) patients (n = 3012 from Asia (93%), n = 238 from Africa (7%)). Among Asian isolates, all pfk13 propeller region mutant alleles observed in five or more specific isolates were associated with a 1.5- to 2.7-fold longer geometric mean PC1/2 compared to the PC1/2 of wild type isolates (all p ≤ 0.002). In addition, mutant allele E252Q located in the P. falciparum region of pfk13 was associated with 1.5-fold (95%CI 1.4-1.6) longer PC1/2. None of the isolates from four countries in Africa showed a significant difference between the PC1/2 of parasites with or without pfk13 propeller region mutations. Previously, the association of six pfk13 propeller mutant alleles with delayed parasite clearance had been confirmed. This analysis demonstrates that 15 additional pfk13 alleles are associated strongly with the slow-clearing phenotype in Southeast Asia. CONCLUSION: Pooled analysis associated 20 pfk13 propeller region mutant alleles with the slow clearance phenotype, including 15 mutations not confirmed previously.

Rudge JW, Inthalaphone N, Pavlicek R, Paboriboune P, Flaissier B, Monidarin C, Steenkeste N, Davong V, Vongsouvath M, Bonath KA et al. 2019. "Epidemiology and aetiology of influenza-like illness among households in metropolitan Vientiane, Lao PDR": A prospective, community-based cohort study. PLoS One, 14 (4), pp. e0214207. | Show Abstract | Read more

Respiratory diseases are a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in many tropical countries, including Lao PDR. However, little has been published regarding viral or bacterial pathogens that can contribute to influenza-like illness (ILI) in a community setting. We report on the results of a community-based surveillance that prospectively monitored the incidence of ILI and its causative pathogens in Vientiane capital in Lao PDR. A cohort of 995 households, including 4885 study participants, were followed-up between May 2015 and May 2016. Nasopharyngeal swabs, throat swabs, and sputum specimens were collected from ILI cases identified through active case-finding. Real-Time PCR was used to test nasopharyngeal swabs for 21 respiratory pathogens, while throat and sputum samples were subjected to bacterial culture. Generalized linear mixed models were used to assess potential risk factors for associations with ILI. In total, 548 episodes of ILI were reported among 476 (9.7%) of the study participants and 330 (33.2%) of the study households. The adjusted estimated incidence of ILI within the study area was 10.7 (95%CI: 9.4-11.9) episodes per 100 person-years. ILI was significantly associated with age group (p<0.001), sex (p<0.001), and number of bedrooms (p = 0.04) in multivariate analysis. In 548 nasopharyngeal swabs, the most commonly detected potential pathogens were Streptococcus pneumoniae (17.0%), Staphylococcus aureus (11.3%), influenza A (11.1%; mostly subtype H3N2), rhinovirus (7.5%), and influenza B (8.0%). Streptococci were isolated from 42 (8.6%) of 536 throat swabs, most (27) of which were Lancefield Group G. Co-infections were observed in 132 (24.1%) of the 548 ILI episodes. Our study generated valuable data on respiratory disease burden and patterns of etiologies associated with community-acquired acute respiratory illness Laos. Establishment of a surveillance strategy in Laos to monitor trends in the epidemiology and burden of acute respiratory infections is required to minimize their impact on human health.

Beane A, Wagstaff D, Abayadeera A, Wijeyaratne M, Ranasinghe G, Mirando S, Dondorp AM, Walker D, Haniffa R. 2019. A learning health systems approach to improving the quality of care for patients in South Asia. Glob Health Action, 12 (1), pp. 1587893. | Show Abstract | Read more

Poor quality of care is a leading cause of excess morbidity and mortality in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). Improving the quality of healthcare is complex, and requires an interdisciplinary team equipped with the skills to design, implement and analyse setting-relevant improvement interventions. Such capacity is limited in many LMICs. However, training for healthcare workers in quality improvement (QI) methodology without buy-in from multidisciplinary stakeholders and without identifying setting-specific priorities is unlikely to be successful. The Care Quality Improvement Network (CQIN) was established between Network for Improving Critical care Systems and Training (NICST) and University College London Centre for Perioperative Medicine, with the aim of building capacity for research and QI. A two-day international workshop, in collaboration with the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka, was conducted to address the above deficits. Innovatively, the CQIN adopts a learning health systems (LHS) approach to improving care by leveraging information captured through the NICST electronic multi-centre acute and critical care surveillance platform. Fifty-two delegates from across the CQIN representing clinical, civic and academic healthcare stakeholders from six countries attended the workshop. Mapping of care processes enabled identification of barriers and drivers to the delivery of care and facilitated the selection of feasible QI methods and matrices. Six projects, reflecting key priorities for improving the delivery of acute care in Asia, were collaboratively developed: improving assessment of postoperative pain; optimising sedation in critical care; refining referral of deteriorating patients; reducing surgical site infection after caesarean section; reducing surgical site infection after elective general surgery; and improving provision of timely electrocardiogram recording for patients presenting with signs of acute myocardial infarction. Future project implementation and evaluation will be supported with resources and expertise from the CQIN partners. This LHS approach to building capacity for QI may be of interest to others seeing to improve care in LMICs.

Pell CL, Adhikari B, Myo Thwin M, Kajeechiwa L, Nosten S, Nosten FH, Sahan KM, Smithuis FM, Nguyen T-N, Hien TT et al. 2019. Community engagement, social context and coverage of mass anti-malarial administration: Comparative findings from multi-site research in the Greater Mekong sub-Region. PLoS One, 14 (3), pp. e0214280. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Between 2013 and 2017, targeted malaria elimination (TME), a package of interventions that includes mass drug administration (MDA)-was piloted in communities with reservoirs of asymptomatic P. falciparum across the Greater Mekong sub-Region (GMS). Coverage in target communities is a key determinant of the effectiveness of MDA. Drawing on mixed methods research conducted alongside TME pilot studies, this article examines the impact of the community engagement, local social context and study design on MDA coverage. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using questionnaire-based surveys, semi-structured and in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, informal conversations, and observations of study activities. Over 1500 respondents were interviewed in Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Interview topics included attitudes to malaria and experiences of MDA. Overall coverage of mass anti-malarial administration was high, particularly participation in at least a single round (85%). Familiarity with and concern about malaria prompted participation in MDA; as did awareness of MDA and familiarity with the aim of eliminating malaria. Fear of adverse events and blood draws discouraged people. Hence, community engagement activities sought to address these concerns but their impact was mediated by the trust relationships that study staff could engender in communities. In contexts of weak healthcare infrastructure and (cash) poverty, communities valued the study's ancillary care and the financial compensation. However, coverage did not necessarily decrease in the absence of cash compensation. Community dynamics, affected by politics, village conformity, and household decision-making also affected coverage. CONCLUSIONS: The experimental nature of TME presented particular challenges to achieving high coverage. Nonetheless, the findings reflect those from studies of MDA under implementation conditions and offer useful guidance for potential regional roll-out of MDA: it is key to understand target communities and provide appropriate information in tailored ways, using community engagement that engenders trust.

Loan HT, Yen LM, Kestelyn E, Hao NV, Thanh TT, Dung NTP, Turner HC, Geskus RB, Wolbers M, Tan LV et al. 2018. Intrathecal Immunoglobulin for treatment of adult patients with tetanus: A randomized controlled 2x2 factorial trial. Wellcome open research, 3 pp. 58. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite long-standing availability of an effective vaccine, tetanus remains a significant problem in many countries. Outcome depends on access to mechanical ventilation and intensive care facilities and in settings where these are limited, mortality remains high. Administration of tetanus antitoxin by the intramuscular route is recommended treatment for tetanus, but as the tetanus toxin acts within the central nervous system, it has been suggested that intrathecal administration of antitoxin may be beneficial. Previous studies have indicated benefit, but with the exception of one small trial no blinded studies have been performed. The objective of this study is to establish whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin reduces the need for mechanical ventilation in patients with tetanus. Secondary objectives: to determine whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin reduces autonomic nervous system dysfunction and length of hospital/ intensive care unit stay; whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin in the treatment of tetanus is safe and cost-effective; to provide data to inform recommendation of human rather than equine antitoxin. This study will enroll adult patients (≥16 years old) with tetanus admitted to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City. The study is a 2x2 factorial blinded randomized controlled trial. Eligible patients will be randomized in a 1:1:1:1 manner to the four treatment arms (intrathecal treatment and human intramuscular treatment, intrathecal treatment and equine intramuscular treatment, sham procedure and human intramuscular treatment, sham procedure and equine intramuscular treatment). Primary outcome measure will be requirement for mechanical ventilation. Secondary outcome measures: duration of hospital/ intensive care unit stay, duration of mechanical ventilation, in-hospital and 240-day mortality and disability, new antibiotic prescription, incidence of ventilator associated pneumonia and autonomic nervous system dysfunction, total dose of benzodiazepines and pipecuronium, and incidence of adverse events. Trial registration: NCT02999815 Registration date: 21 December 2016.

Yuhana Y, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Sujariyakul P, Sonthayanon P, Chotivanich K, Paris DH, Pukrittayakamee S, Blacksell SD, Hanboonkunupakarn B. 2019. Diagnosis of Murine Typhus by Serology in Peninsular Malaysia: A Case Report Where Rickettsial Illnesses, Leptospirosis and Dengue Co-Circulate. Trop Med Infect Dis, 4 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Murine typhus is a rarely diagnosed cause of acute febrile illness in Malaysia, and its true disease burden is unknown. We report a case of an acute murine typhus infection in a patient living in a small city in Peninsular Malaysia, presenting with fever, rash, and headache. Unresponsive to the initial empirical treatment for leptospirosis, he showed a rapid response to doxycycline when murine typhus was diagnosed later. This case highlights the importance of considering murine typhus as a diagnostic in cases of acute febrile illness in urban and sub-urban areas, such as that of in Peninsular Malaysia.

Chotsiri P, Zongo I, Milligan P, Compaore YD, Somé AF, Chandramohan D, Hanpithakpong W, Nosten F, Greenwood B, Rosenthal PJ et al. 2019. Optimal dosing of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for seasonal malaria chemoprevention in young children. Nat Commun, 10 (1), pp. 480. | Show Abstract | Read more

Young children are the population most severely affected by Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) with amodiaquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine provides substantial benefit to this vulnerable population, but resistance to the drugs will develop. Here, we evaluate the use of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine as an alternative regimen in 179 children (aged 2.33-58.1 months). Allometrically scaled body weight on pharmacokinetic parameters of piperaquine result in lower drug exposures in small children after a standard mg per kg dosage. A covariate-free sigmoidal EMAX-model describes the interval to malaria re-infections satisfactorily. Population-based simulations suggest that small children would benefit from a higher dosage according to the WHO 2015 guideline. Increasing the dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine dosage and extending the dose schedule to four monthly doses result in a predicted relative reduction in malaria incidence of up to 58% during the high transmission season. The higher and extended dosing schedule to cover the high transmission period for SMC could improve the preventive efficacy substantially.

Ashley EA, Phyo AP, Carrara VI, Tun KM, Nosten F, Smithuis F, White NJ. 2019. Plasmodium vivax relapse rates following falciparum malaria reflect previous transmission intensity. J Infect Dis, | Show Abstract | Read more

Between 2003 and 2010, 687 (23.8%) of 2885 patients treated for falciparum malaria in clinical studies in Myanmar or on the Thailand-Myanmar border had recurrent Plasmodium vivax malaria within 63 days compared with 18 (4.2%) of 429 patients since then; RR 0.176 (95%CI: 0.112-0.278); p<0.0001. Corresponding figures for 42 days follow up only were 820 (21.1%) of 3883 before 2010 compared with 22(2.5%) of 886 since; RR 0.117 (0.077-0.177); p<0.0001. This six-fold reduction suggests a recent decline in P. vivax transmission intensity, and thus a substantial reduction in the proportion of individuals harboring hypnozoites.

Watson JA, Leopold SJ, Simpson JA, Day NP, Dondorp AM, White NJ. 2019. Collider bias and the apparent protective effect of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency on cerebral malaria. Elife, 8 | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Case fatality rates in severe falciparum malaria depend on the pattern and degree of vital organ dysfunction. Recent large-scale case-control analyses of pooled severe malaria data reported that glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDd) was protective against cerebral malaria but increased the risk of severe malarial anaemia. A novel formulation of the balancing selection hypothesis was proposed as an explanation for these findings, whereby the selective advantage is driven by the competing risks of death from cerebral malaria and death from severe malarial anaemia. We re-analysed these claims using causal diagrams and showed that they are subject to collider bias. A simulation based sensitivity analysis, varying the strength of the known effect of G6PDd on anaemia, showed that this bias is sufficient to explain all of the observed association. Future genetic epidemiology studies in severe malaria would benefit from the use of causal reasoning.

Sawasdichai S, Chaumeau V, Dah T, Kulabkeeree T, Kajeechiwa L, Phanaphadungtham M, Trakoolchengkaew M, Kittiphanakun P, Akararungrot Y, Oo K et al. 2019. Natural Wolbachia infections in malaria vectors in Kayin state, Myanmar | Show Abstract | Read more

Background : Natural Wolbachia infections in malaria mosquitoes were recently reported in Africa, and negatively correlated with the development of Plasmodium falciparum in the vectors. The occurrence and effects of Wolbachia infections outside Africa have not been described and may have been underestimated. Methods : Mosquitoes were collected by human-landing catch during May and June 2017 in ten villages in Kayin state, Myanmar. Closely related species of malaria vectors were identified with molecular assays. Wolbachia infection rates were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. Results: Malaria vectors were identified in the Funestus, Maculatus and Leucosphyrus Groups . Wolbachia were detected in 6/6 Anopheles species and in 5/10 villages. Mean prevalence of Wolbachia infection was 2.7% (95%CI= [1.3; 4.9]). The median Wolbachia load was seven orders of magnitude less in naturally infected malaria vectors than in artificially infected laboratory-reared Aedes aegypti . Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA sequences revealed a high diversity of Wolbachia strains and identified lineages different from those described in Africa. Conclusion: Natural Wolbachia infections are common and widespread in malaria vectors in Kayin state, Myanmar. Their effects on Anopheles mosquitoes and malaria transmission is yet to be determined.

Bancone G, Menard D, Khim N, Kim S, Canier L, Nguong C, Phommasone K, Mayxay M, Dittrich S, Vongsouvath M et al. 2019. Molecular characterization and mapping of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) mutations in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Malar J, 18 (1), pp. 20. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax malaria elimination can only be achieved by the deployment of 8-aminoquinolines (primaquine and tafenoquine) in combination with ACT to kill both blood and liver-stage parasites. However, primaquine and the other 8-aminoquinolines cause dose-dependent haemolysis in subjects with G6PD deficiency, an X-linked disorder of red blood cells that is very common in populations living in tropical and subtropical areas. In order to inform safer use of 8-aminoquinolines in the Greater Mekong Subregion, a multi-centre study was carried out to assess the prevalence of G6PD deficiency and to identify the main G6PD variants in samples collected in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. METHODS: Blood samples were collected in the five countries during National Malaria Surveys or during Population Surveys. During Population Surveys samples were characterized for G6PD phenotype using the Fluorescent Spot Test. Samples were then genotyped for a panel of G6PD mutations. RESULTS: G6PD deficiency was found to be common in the region with an overall mean prevalence of deficient or mutated hemizygous males of 14.0%, ranging from a mean 7.3% in Thailand, 8.1% in Lao PDR, 8.9% in Vietnam, 15.8% in Myanmar and 18.8% in Cambodia. Mahidol and Viangchan mutations were the most common and widespread variants found among the nine investigated. CONCLUSIONS: Owing to the high prevalence of G6PD deficiency in the Greater Mekong Subregion, strategies for vivax malaria elimination should include point-of-care G6PD testing (both qualitative and quantitative) to allow safe and wide treatment with 8-aminoquinolines.

Ngan NTT, Mai NTH, Tung NLN, Lan NPH, Tai LTH, Phu NH, Chau NVV, Binh TQ, Hung LQ, Beardsley J et al. 2019. A randomized open label trial of tamoxifen combined with amphotericin B and fluconazole for cryptococcal meningitis. Wellcome Open Res, 4 pp. 8. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Cryptococcal meningitis is a leading cause of death in HIV-infected patients. International treatment guidelines recommend induction therapy with amphotericin B and flucytosine. This antifungal combination is most effective, but unfortunately flucytosine is expensive and unavailable where the burden of disease is greatest. Where unavailable, guidelines recommend treatment with amphotericin and fluconazole, but this is less effective, with mortality rates of 40-50%. Faster rates of clearance of yeast from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are associated with better outcomes - improving the potency of antifungal therapy is likely to be an effective strategy to improve survival. Tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptor modulator used to treat breast cancer, has anti-cryptococcal activity, appearing synergistic when combined in vitro with amphotericin, and fungicidal when combined with fluconazole. It is concentrated in the brain and macrophages, off-patent, cheap and widely available. We designed a randomized trial to deliver initial efficacy and safety data for tamoxifen combined with amphotericin and fluconazole. Method: A phase II, open-label, randomized (1:1) controlled trial of tamoxifen (300mg/day) combined with amphotericin (1mg/kg/day) and fluconazole (800mg/day) for the first 2 weeks therapy for HIV infected or uninfected adults with cryptococcal meningitis. The study recruits at Cho Ray Hospital and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The primary end point is Early Fungicidal Activity (EFA-the rate of yeast clearance from CSF), over the first two weeks of treatment. 50 patients will be recruited providing ≈80% and 90% power to detect a difference in the EFA of -0.11 or -0.13 log10CFU/ml/day, respectively. Discussion: The results of the study will inform the decision to proceed to a larger trial powered to mortality. The size of effect detectable has previously been associated with reduced mortality from this devastating disease. Particular side effects of interest include QT prolongation. Trial registration: NCT03112031 (11/04/2017).

Auburn S, Getachew S, Pearson RD, Amato R, Miotto O, Trimarsanto H, Zhu SJ, Rumaseb A, Marfurt J, Noviyanti R et al. 2019. Genomic analysis of Plasmodium vivax in southern Ethiopia reveals selective pressures in multiple parasite mechanisms. J Infect Dis, | Show Abstract | Read more

The Horn of Africa harbours the largest reservoir of Plasmodium vivax in the continent. Most of sub-Saharan Africa has remained relatively vivax-free due to a high prevalence of the human Duffy-negative trait, but the emergence of strains able to invade Duffy-negative reticulocytes poses a major public health threat. We undertook the first population genomic investigation of P. vivax from the region, comparing the genomes of 24 Ethiopian isolates against data from Southeast Asia to identify important local adaptions. The prevalence of the duffy binding protein amplification in Ethiopia was 79%, potentially reflecting adaptation to Duffy-negativity. There was also evidence of selection in a region upstream of the chloroquine resistance transporter, a putative chloroquine-resistance determinant. Strong signals of selection were observed in genes involved in immune evasion and regulation of gene expression, highlighting the need for a multifaceted intervention approach to combat P. vivax in the region.

Llanos-Cuentas A, Lacerda MVG, Hien TT, Vélez ID, Namaik-Larp C, Chu CS, Villegas MF, Val F, Monteiro WM, Brito MAM et al. 2019. Tafenoquine versus Primaquine to Prevent Relapse of Plasmodium vivax Malaria. N Engl J Med, 380 (3), pp. 229-241. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tafenoquine, a single-dose therapy for Plasmodium vivax malaria, has been associated with relapse prevention through the clearance of P. vivax parasitemia and hypnozoites, termed "radical cure." METHODS: We performed a phase 3, prospective, double-blind, double-dummy, randomized, controlled trial to compare tafenoquine with primaquine in terms of safety and efficacy. The trial was conducted at seven hospitals or clinics in Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, and Thailand and involved patients with normal glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) enzyme activity and female patients with moderate G6PD enzyme deficiency; all patients had confirmed P. vivax parasitemia. The patients were randomly assigned, in a 2:1 ratio, to receive a single 300-mg dose of tafenoquine or 15 mg of primaquine once daily for 14 days (administered under supervision); all patients received a 3-day course of chloroquine and were followed for 180 days. The primary safety outcome was a protocol-defined decrease in the hemoglobin level (>3.0 g per deciliter or ≥30% from baseline or to a level of <6.0 g per deciliter). Freedom from recurrence of P. vivax parasitemia at 6 months was the primary efficacy outcome in a planned patient-level meta-analysis of the current trial and another phase 3 trial of tafenoquine and primaquine (per-protocol populations), and an odds ratio for recurrence of 1.45 (tafenoquine vs. primaquine) was used as a noninferiority margin. RESULTS: A protocol-defined decrease in the hemoglobin level occurred in 4 of 166 patients (2.4%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.9 to 6.0) in the tafenoquine group and in 1 of 85 patients (1.2%; 95% CI, 0.2 to 6.4) in the primaquine group, for a between-group difference of 1.2 percentage points (95% CI, -4.2 to 5.0). In the patient-level meta-analysis, the percentage of patients who were free from recurrence at 6 months was 67.0% (95% CI, 61.0 to 72.3) among the 426 patients in the tafenoquine group and 72.8% (95% CI, 65.6 to 78.8) among the 214 patients in the primaquine group. The efficacy of tafenoquine was not shown to be noninferior to that of primaquine (odds ratio for recurrence, 1.81; 95% CI, 0.82 to 3.96). CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with normal G6PD enzyme activity, the decline in hemoglobin level with tafenoquine did not differ significantly from that with primaquine. Tafenoquine showed efficacy for the radical cure of P. vivax malaria, although tafenoquine was not shown to be noninferior to primaquine. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline and Medicines for Malaria Venture; GATHER number, NCT02216123 .).

Dailey PJ, Osborn J, Ashley EA, Baron EJ, Dance DAB, Fusco D, Fanello C, Manabe YC, Mokomane M, Newton PN et al. 2019. Defining System Requirements for Simplified Blood Culture to Enable Widespread Use in Resource-Limited Settings. Diagnostics (Basel), 9 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacterial blood stream infections (BSI) are a common cause of mortality and morbidity globally. As the causative agents and the resulting treatment decisions vary, near-patient testing and surveillance tools are necessary to monitor bacterial causes and resistance to antimicrobial agents. The gold standard to identify BSIs is blood culture (BC), a methodology not widely available in resource-limited settings. The aim of the study was to map out a target product profile of a simplified BC system (SBCS) to inform product development efforts. To identify the desired characteristics of a SBCS, we enlisted a small group of specialists working in Africa and Asia. Questions were used to understand challenges and how these constraints inform system requirements. The specialists were infectious disease physicians, public health/clinical microbiologists, clinical researchers, and technology experts with different geographical backgrounds. All suggested that BC should ideally be available at the district hospital level. Many of the same operational challenges, such as limited availability of culture bottles, electricity and internet connectivity, profuse dust, the lack of ambient temperature control, and human capacity constraints were identified across the different regions. BCs, although the accepted gold standard for diagnosis of BSIs, are not widely available outside of reference/research centers in Africa and Asia. To extend the reach of this important tool, it is crucial to engage product developers and academic research partners to develop accessible alternatives.

Win TT, Su KK, Than AM, Htut ZM, Pyar KP, Ashley EA, Dance DAB, Tun KM. 2019. Presence of Burkholderia pseudomallei in the 'Granary of Myanmar'. Trop Med Infect Dis, 4 (1), pp. 8-8. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is a frequently fatal infectious disease caused by the Gram negative bacillus Burkholderia pseudomallei. Although it was originally discovered in Myanmar, the disease disappeared from sight for many decades. This study focuses on detection of B. pseudomallei in soil in selected sampling sites in an attempt to start to fill the gaps in the current status of our knowledge of the geographical distribution of B. pseudomallei in soil in Myanmar. This cross-sectional study consists of 400 soil samples from 10 selected study townships from two major paddy growing regions. Bacterial isolation was done using a simplified method for the isolation of Burkholderia pseudomallei from soil. In this study, only 1% (4/400) of soil samples were found to be positive; two of four were found at 90 cm depth and another two positive samples were found at 30 cm and 60 cm. This survey has confirmed the presence of environmental B. pseudomallei in Myanmar indicating that the conditions are in place for melioidosis acquisition.

Chandna A, White L, Pongvongsa T, Mayxay M, Newton P, Day N, Lubell Y. 2019. Accounting for aetiology: can regional surveillance data alongside host biomarker-guided antibiotic therapy improve treatment of febrile illness in remote settings? | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Across Southeast Asia, declining malaria incidence poses a challenge for healthcare providers, in how best to manage the vast majority of patients with febrile illnesses who have a negative malaria test. In rural regions, where the majority of the population reside, empirical treatment guidelines derived from central urban hospitals are often of limited relevance. In these settings, relatively untrained health workers deliver care, often without any laboratory diagnostic support. In this paper, our aim was to model the impact on mortality from febrile illness of using point-of-care C-reactive protein testing to inform the decision to prescribe antibiotics and regional surveillance data to inform antibiotic selection, rooted in the real-world context of rural Savannakhet province, southern Laos. Methods: Our model simulates 100 scenarios with varying quarterly incidence of six key pathogens known to be prevalent in rural Laos. In the simulations, community health workers either prescribe antibiotics in-line with current practice as documented in health facilities in rural Laos, or with the aid of the two interventions. We provide cost-effectiveness estimates for each strategy alone and then for an integrated approach using both interventions. Results: We find that each strategy alone is predicted to be highly cost-effective, and that the combined approach is predicted to result in the biggest reduction in mortality (averting a predicted 510 deaths per year in rural Savannakhet, a 28% reduction compared to standard practice) and is highly cost-effective, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of just $66 per disability-adjusted life year averted. Conclusions: Substantial seasonal variation in the predicted optimal empirical antibiotic treatment for febrile illness highlights the benefits of up-to-date information on regional causes of fever. In this modelling analysis, an integrated system incorporating point-of-care host biomarker testing and regional surveillance data appears highly cost-effective, and may warrant piloting in a real-life setting.

Pal S, Bansil P, Bancone G, Hrutkay S, Kahn M, Gornsawun G, Penpitchaporn P, Chu CS, Nosten F, Domingo GJ. 2019. Evaluation of a Novel Quantitative Test for Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency: Bringing Quantitative Testing for Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency Closer to the Patient. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 100 (1), pp. 213-221. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, a common genetic blood condition, can result in kernicterus at birth, and later in life as severe hemolysis on exposure to certain infections, foods, and drugs. The unavailability of point-of-care tests for G6PD deficiency is a barrier to routine curative treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria with 8-aminoquinolines, such as primaquine. Two quantitative reference tests (Trinity Biotech, Bray, Ireland and Pointe Scientific, Canton, MI; Cat No. G7583) and the point-of-care STANDARD™ G6PD test (SD Biosensor, Suwon, South Korea) were evaluated. The STANDARD G6PD test was evaluated at multiple temperatures, in anticoagulated venous and capillary samples, including 79 G6PD-deficient and 66 intermediate samples and across two laboratories, one in the United States and one in Thailand. The STANDARD test performed equivalently to a reference assay for its ability to diagnose G6PD deficiency (< 30% normal) with a sensitivity of 100% (0.95 confidence interval [CI]: 95.7-100) and specificity of 97% (0.95 CI: 94.5-98.5), and could reliably identify females with less than 70% normal G6PD activity with a sensitivity of 95.5% (0.95 CI: 89.7-98.5) and specificity of 97% (0.95 CI: 94.5-98.6). The STANDARD G6PD product represents an opportunity to diagnose G6PD deficiency equally for males and females in basic clinical laboratories in high- and low-resource settings. This quantitative point-of-care diagnostic test for G6PD deficiency can provide equal access to safe radical cure of P. vivax cases in high- and low-resource settings, for males and females and may support malaria elimination, in countries where P. vivax is endemic.

Althaus T, Greer RC, Swe MMM, Cohen J, Tun NN, Heaton J, Nedsuwan S, Intralawan D, Sumpradit N, Dittrich S et al. 2019. Effect of point-of-care C-reactive protein testing on antibiotic prescription in febrile patients attending primary care in Thailand and Myanmar: an open-label, randomised, controlled trial. Lancet Glob Health, 7 (1), pp. e119-e131. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In southeast Asia, antibiotic prescription in febrile patients attending primary care is common, and a probable contributor to the high burden of antimicrobial resistance. The objective of this trial was to explore whether C-reactive protein (CRP) testing at point of care could rationalise antibiotic prescription in primary care, comparing two proposed thresholds to classify CRP concentrations as low or high to guide antibiotic treatment. METHODS: We did a multicentre, open-label, randomised, controlled trial in participants aged at least 1 year with a documented fever or a chief complaint of fever (regardless of previous antibiotic intake and comorbidities other than malignancies) recruited from six public primary care units in Thailand and three primary care clinics and one outpatient department in Myanmar. Individuals were randomly assigned using a computer-based randomisation system at a ratio of 1:1:1 to either the control group or one of two CRP testing groups, which used thresholds of 20 mg/L (group A) or 40 mg/L CRP (group B) to guide antibiotic prescription. Health-care providers were masked to allocation between the two intervention groups but not to the control group. The primary outcome was the prescription of any antibiotic from day 0 to day 5 and the proportion of patients who were prescribed an antibiotic when CRP concentrations were above and below the 20 mg/L or 40 mg/L thresholds. The primary outcome was analysed in the intention-to-treat and per-protocol populations. The trial is registered with, number NCT02758821, and is now completed. FINDINGS: Between June 8, 2016, and Aug 25, 2017, we recruited 2410 patients, of whom 803 patients were randomly assigned to CRP group A, 800 to CRP group B, and 807 to the control group. 598 patients in CRP group A, 593 in CRP group B, and 767 in the control group had follow-up data for both day 5 and day 14 and had been prescribed antibiotics (or not) in accordance with test results (per-protocol population). During the trial, 318 (39%) of 807 patients in the control group were prescribed an antibiotic by day 5, compared with 290 (36%) of 803 patients in CRP group A and 275 (34%) of 800 in CRP group B. The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 0·80 (95% CI 0·65-0·98) and risk difference of -5·0 percentage points (95% CI -9·7 to -0·3) between group B and the control group were significant, although lower than anticipated, whereas the reduction in prescribing in group A compared with the control group was not significant (aOR 0·86 [0·70-1·06]; risk difference -3·3 percentage points [-8·0 to 1·4]). Patients with high CRP concentrations in both intervention groups were more likely to be prescribed an antibiotic than in the control group (CRP ≥20 mg/L: group A vs control group, p<0·0001; CRP ≥40 mg/L: group B vs control group, p<0·0001), and those with low CRP concentrations were more likely to have an antibiotic withheld (CRP <20 mg/L: group A vs control group, p<0·0001; CRP <40 mg/L: group B vs control group, p<0·0001). 24 serious adverse events were recorded, consisting of 23 hospital admissions and one death, which occurred in CRP group A. Only one serious adverse event was thought to be possibly related to the study (a hospital admission in CRP group A). INTERPRETATION: In febrile patients attending primary care, testing for CRP at point of care with a threshold of 40 mg/L resulted in a modest but significant reduction in antibiotic prescribing, with patients with high CRP being more likely to be prescribed an antibiotic, and no evidence of a difference in clinical outcomes. This study extends the evidence base from lower-income settings supporting the use of CRP tests to rationalise antibiotic use in primary care patients with an acute febrile illness. A key limitation of this study is the individual rather than cluster randomised study design which might have resulted in contamination between the study groups, reducing the effect size of the intervention. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund grant (105605/Z/14/Z) and Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) funding from the Australian Government.

Holt HR, Inthavong P, Blaszak K, Keokamphe C, Phongmany A, Blacksell SD, Durr PA, Graham K, Allen J, Donnelly B et al. 2019. Production diseases in smallholder pig systems in rural Lao PDR. Prev Vet Med, 162 pp. 110-116. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pigs in Lao People's Democratic Republic are important for income and food security, particularly in rural households. The majority of pigs are reared in smallholder systems, which may challenge the implementation of any disease control strategies. To investigate risk factors for pig production diseases in such farming systems in the country a serological survey was conducted during 2011. A total of 647 pigs were sampled, accounting for 294 households in Luang Prabang and 353 in Savannakhet province representing upland and lowland, respectively. The results demonstrated that pigs in Lao PDR had antibodies against erysipelas (45.2%), CSF (11.2%), PRRS (8.6%), FMD O (17.2%) and FMD Asia 1, (3.5%). Differences in the housing systems influenced disease risk, for example, penned pigs had reduced odds of FMD and CSF, compared to those in scavenger systems. Pigs owned by farms using a sanaam (a communal area where pigs are kept for some time of the year) had 3.93 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.09-14.7) times the odds of having pigs seropositive for FMD. Farms on which sudden piglet deaths had been experienced were more likely to have pigs seropositive for FMD O and erysipelas. These diseases constrain the development of village farming and the wider livestock industry due to their impact on productivity and trade. Vaccination coverage for FMD and CSF was low and there was a lack of national funding for livestock disease control at the time of the study. Further investigation into sustainable low-cost control strategies for these pathogens is warranted.

May WL, Kyaw MP, Blacksell SD, Pukrittayakamee S, Chotivanich K, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Thein KN, Lim CS, Thaipadungpanit J, Althaus T, Jittamala P. 2019. Impact of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency on dengue infection in Myanmar children. PLoS One, 14 (1), pp. e0209204. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency may affect the clinical presentation of dengue due to the altered redox state in immune cells. We aimed to determine the association between G6PD deficiency and severity of dengue infection in paediatric patients in Myanmar. A cross-sectional study was conducted among paediatric patients aged 2-13 years with dengue in Yankin Children Hospital, Myanmar. One hundred and ninety-six patients positive for dengue infection, as determined via PCR or ELISA, were enrolled. Dengue severity was determined according to the 2009 WHO classification guidelines. Spectrophotometric assays determined G6PD levels. The adjusted median G6PD value of males in the study population was used to define various cut-off points according to the WHO classification guidelines. G6PD genotyping for Mahidol, Kaiping and Mediterranean mutations was performed for 128 out of 196 samples by real-time multiplex PCR. 51 of 196 (26.0%) patients had severe dengue. The prevalence of G6PD phenotype deficiency (< 60% activity) in paediatric patients was 14.8% (29/196), specifically, 13.6% (14/103) in males and 16.2% (15/93) in females. Severe deficiency (< 10% activity) accounted for 7.1% (14/196) of our cohort, occurring 11.7% (12/103) in males and 2.2% (2/93) in females. Among 128 samples genotyped, the G6PD gene mutations were detected in 19.5% (25/128) of patients, with 20.3% (13/ 64) in males and 18.8% (12/64) in females. The G6PD Mahidol mutation was 96.0% (24/25) while the G6PD Kaiping mutation was 4.0% (1/25). Severe dengue was not associated with G6PD enzyme deficiency or presence of the G6PD gene mutation. Thus, no association between G6PD deficiency and dengue severity could be detected. Trial registration: The study was registered following the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (WHO-ICTRP) on Thai Clinical Trials Registry (TCTR) website, registration number # TCTR20180720001.

Cheah PY. 2019. Institutions must state policy on data sharing. Nature, 565 (7739), pp. 294. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Read more

White NJ. 2019. Tafenoquine - A Radical Improvement? N Engl J Med, 380 (3), pp. 285-286. | Read more

Beane A, De Silva AP, Athapattu PL, Jayasinghe S, Abayadeera AU, Wijerathne M, Udayanga I, Rathnayake S, Dondorp AM, Haniffa R. 2019. Addressing the information deficit in global health: lessons from a digital acute care platform in Sri Lanka. BMJ Glob Health, 4 (1), pp. e001134. | Show Abstract | Read more

Lack of investment in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) in systems capturing continuous information regarding care of the acutely unwell patient is hindering global efforts to address inequalities, both at facility and national level. Furthermore, this of lack of data is disempowering frontline staff and those seeking to support them, from progressing setting-relevant research and quality improvement. In contrast to high-income country (HIC) settings, where electronic surveillance has boosted the capability of governments, clinicians and researchers to engage in service-wide healthcare evaluation, healthcare information in resource-limited settings remains almost exclusively paper based. In this practice paper, we describe the efforts of a collaboration of clinicians, administrators, researchers and healthcare informaticians working in South Asia, in addressing the inequality in access to patient information in acute care. Harnessing a clinician-led collaborative approach to design and evaluation, we have implemented a national acute care information platform in Sri Lanka that is tailored to priorities of frontline staff. Iterative adaptation has ensured the platform has the flexibility to integrate with legacy paper systems, support junior team members in advocating for acutely unwell patients and has made information captured accessible to diverse stakeholders to improve service delivery. The same platform is now empowering clinicians to participate in international research and drive forwards improvements in care. During this journey, we have also gained insights on how to overcome well-described barriers to implementation of digital information tools in LMIC. We anticipate that this north-south collaborative approach to addressing the challenges of health system implementation in acute care may provide learning and inspiration to other partnerships seeking to engage in similar work.

Blacksell SD, Siengsanan-Lamont J, Kamolsiripichaiporn S, Gleeson LJ, Windsor PA. 2019. A history of FMD research and control programmes in Southeast Asia: lessons from the past informing the future. Epidemiol Infect, 147 pp. e171. | Show Abstract | Read more

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a major animal health problem within Southeast Asia (SEA). Although Indonesia and more recently the Philippines have achieved freedom from FMD, the disease remains endemic on continental SEA. Control of FMD within SEA would increase access to markets in more developed economies and reduce lost productivity in smallholder and emerging commercial farmer settings. However, despite many years of vaccination by individual countries, numerous factors have prevented the successful control of FMD within the region, including unregulated 'informal' transboundary movement of livestock and their products, difficulties implementing vaccination programmes, emergence of new virus topotypes and lineages, low-level technical capacity and biosecurity at national levels, limited farmer knowledge on FMD disease recognition, failure of timely outbreak reporting and response, and limitations in national and international FMD control programmes. This paper examines the published research of FMD in the SEA region, reviewing the history, virology, epidemiology and control programmes and identifies future opportunities for FMD research aimed at the eventual eradication of FMD from the region.

Shretta R, Silal S, White LJ, Maude RJ. 2019. Predicting the cost of malaria elimination in the Asia-Pacific. Wellcome open research, 4 pp. 73. | Show Abstract | Read more

Over the past decade, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region have made significant progress towards the goal of malaria elimination by the year 2030. It is widely accepted that for the region to meet this goal, an intensification of efforts supported by sustained funding is required. However, robust estimates are needed for the optimal coverage and components of malaria elimination packages and the resources required to implement them. In this collection, a multispecies mathematical and economic modelling approach supported by the estimated burden of disease is used to make preliminary estimates for the cost of elimination and develop an evidence-based investment case for the region.

Morris U, Msellem MI, Mkali H, Islam A, Aydin-Schmidt B, Jovel I, Shija SJ, Khamis M, Ali SM, Hodzic L et al. 2018. A cluster randomised controlled trial of two rounds of mass drug administration in Zanzibar, a malaria pre-elimination setting-high coverage and safety, but no significant impact on transmission. BMC Med, 16 (1), pp. 215. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mass drug administration (MDA) has the potential to interrupt malaria transmission and has been suggested as a tool for malaria elimination in low-endemic settings. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness and safety of two rounds of MDA in Zanzibar, a pre-elimination setting. METHODS: A cluster randomised controlled trial was conducted in 16 areas considered as malaria hotspots, with an annual parasite index of > 0.8%. The areas were randomised to eight intervention and eight control clusters. The intervention included two rounds of MDA with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine and single low-dose primaquine 4 weeks apart in May-June 2016. Primary and secondary outcomes were cumulative confirmed malaria case incidences 6 months post-MDA and parasite prevalences determined by PCR 3 months post-MDA. Additional outcomes included intervention coverage, treatment adherence, occurrence of adverse events, and cumulative incidences 3, 12, and 16 months post-MDA. RESULTS: Intervention coverage was 91.0% (9959/10944) and 87.7% (9355/10666) in the first and second rounds, respectively; self-reported adherence was 82.0% (881/1136) and 93.7% (985/1196). Adverse events were reported in 11.6% (147/1268) and 3.2% (37/1143) of post-MDA survey respondents after both rounds respectively. No serious adverse event was reported. No difference in cumulative malaria case incidence was observed between the control and intervention arms 6 months post-MDA (4.2 and 3.9 per 1000 population; p = 0.94). Neither was there a difference in PCR-determined parasite prevalences 3 months post-MDA (1.4% and 1.7%; OR = 1.0, p = 0.94), although having received at least the first MDA was associated with reduced odds of malaria infection (aOR = 0.35; p = 0.02). Among confirmed malaria cases at health facilities, 26.0% and 26.3% reported recent travel outside Zanzibar in the intervention and control shehias (aOR ≥ 85; p ≤ 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: MDA was implemented with high coverage, adherence, and tolerability. Despite this, no significant impact on transmission was observed. The findings suggest that two rounds of MDA in a single year may not be sufficient for a sustained impact on transmission in a pre-elimination setting, especially when the MDA impact is restricted by imported malaria. Importantly, this study adds to the limited evidence for the use of MDA in low transmission settings in sub-Saharan Africa. TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT02721186 (registration date: March 29, 2016).

McGready R, Paw MK, Wiladphaingern J, Min AM, Carrara V, Moore K, Pukrittayakamee S, Nosten F. 2018. The overlap between miscarriage and extreme preterm birth in a limited-resource setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border: a population cohort study Wellcome Open Research, 1 pp. 32-32. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background :  No universal  demarcation of gestational age  distinguishes miscarriage and stillbirth or extreme preterm birth (exPTB). This study provides a synopsis of outcome between 22 to <28 weeks gestation from a low resource setting. Methods :  A retrospective record review of a population on the Thailand-Myanmar border was conducted. Outcomes were classified as miscarriage, late expulsion of products between 22 to < 28 weeks gestation with evidence of non-viability (mostly ultrasound absent fetal heart beat) prior to 22 weeks; or  exPTB (stillbirth/live born) between 22 to < 28 weeks gestation when the fetus was viable at ≥22 weeks. Termination of pregnancy and gestational trophoblastic disease were excluded. Results :  From 1995-2015, 80.9% (50,046/ 61,829) of registered women had a known pregnancy outcome, of whom 99.8% (49,931) had a known gestational age. Delivery  between 22 to <28 weeks gestation included 0.9% (472/49,931) of pregnancies after removing 18 cases (3.8%) who met an exclusion criteria. Most  pregnancies had an ultrasound: 72.5% (n=329/454);  43.6% (n=197) were classified as  miscarriage and 56.4% (n=257) exPTB.  Individual record review of miscarriages estimated that fetal death had occurred at a median of 16 weeks, despite late expulsion between 22 to <28 weeks. With available data (n=252, 5 missing) the proportion of stillbirth was 47.6% (n=120), congenital abnormality 10.5% (24/228, 29 missing) and neonatal death was 98.5% (128/131, 1 missing). Introduction of ultrasound was associated with a 2-times higher odds of classification of outcome as exPTB rather than miscarriage. Conclusion :  In this low resource setting few (<1%) pregnancy outcomes occurred in the 22 to <28 weeks gestational window; four in ten  were miscarriage (late expulsion) and neonatal mortality approached 100%.  In the scale-up to preventable newborns deaths (at least initially) greater benefits will be obtained by focusing on the viable newborns of ≥ 28 weeks gestation.

Zhu L, Tripathi J, Rocamora FM, Miotto O, van der Pluijm R, Voss TS, Mok S, Kwiatkowski DP, Nosten F, Day NPJ et al. 2018. The origins of malaria artemisinin resistance defined by a genetic and transcriptomic background. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 5158. | Show Abstract | Read more

The predisposition of parasites acquiring artemisinin resistance still remains unclear beyond the mutations in Pfk13 gene and modulation of the unfolded protein response pathway. To explore the chain of casualty underlying artemisinin resistance, we reanalyze 773 P. falciparum isolates from TRACI-study integrating TWAS, GWAS, and eQTL analyses. We find the majority of P. falciparum parasites are transcriptomically converged within each geographic site with two broader physiological profiles across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). We report 8720 SNP-expression linkages in the eastern GMS parasites and 4537 in the western. The minimal overlap between them suggests differential gene regulatory networks facilitating parasite adaptations to their unique host environments. Finally, we identify two genetic and physiological backgrounds associating with artemisinin resistance in the GMS, together with a farnesyltransferase protein and a thioredoxin-like protein which may act as vital intermediators linking the Pfk13 C580Y mutation to the prolonged parasite clearance time.

Watson JA, Strub-Wourgraft N, Tarral A, Ribeiro I, Tarning J, White N. 2018. A pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic assessment of the hepatic and bone-marrow toxicities of the new trypanoside fexinidazole | Show Abstract | Read more

Fexinidazole is a novel oral treatment for Trypanosoma brucei gambiense human African trypanosomiasis: g -HAT. Fexinidazole is also active against other kinetoplastid parasites, notably T. cruzi the causative agent of Chagas disease. During the course of a dose ranging assessment in chronic indeterminate Chagas disease, delayed neutropenia and significant increases in hepatic transaminases were observed and clinical investigations were suspended. We retrospectively analyzed all available pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data on fexinidazole in normal healthy volunteers and in patients with chronic Chagas disease and g -HAT, in order to assess the determinants of toxicity. A population pharmacokinetic model was fitted to plasma concentration data on the bioactive fexinidazole sulfone metabolite from three phase I studies, two g -HAT phase II/III field trials and one Chagas phase-II field trial (n=462 total). Bayesian exposure-response models were then fitted to hematological and liver related pharmacodynamic outcomes in chronic Chagas patients. Neutropenia, reductions in platelet counts, and elevations in liver transaminases were all found to be exposure and thus dose dependent in patients with chronic Chagas disease. Clinically insignificant transient reductions in neutrophil and platelet counts consistent with these exposure-response relationships were observed in the g -HAT trials. In contrast, no evidence of hepatotoxicity was observed in the g -HAT trials. Fexinidazole treatment results in a dose dependent liver toxicity and transient bone marrow suppression in Chagas disease. Regimens of shorter duration should be trialled for Chagas. The currently recommended regimen for sleeping sickness provides exposures within a satisfactory safety margin for bone marrow suppression and does not cause hepatotoxicity.

Hay SI, Rao PC, Dolecek C, Day NPJ, Stergachis A, Lopez AD, Murray CJL. 2018. Measuring and mapping the global burden of antimicrobial resistance. BMC Med, 16 (1), pp. 78. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The increasing number and global distribution of pathogens resistant to antimicrobial drugs is potentially one of the greatest threats to global health, leading to health crises arising from infections that were once easy to treat. Infections resistant to antimicrobial treatment frequently result in longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, and increased mortality. Despite the long-standing recognition of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) across many settings, there is surprisingly poor information about its geographical distribution over time and trends in its population prevalence and incidence. This makes reliable assessments of the health burden attributable to AMR difficult, weakening the evidence base to drive forward research and policy agendas to combat AMR. The inclusion of mortality and morbidity data related to drug-resistant infections into the annual Global Burden of Disease Study should help fill this policy void.

Antonova-Koch Y, Meister S, Abraham M, Luth MR, Ottilie S, Lukens AK, Sakata-Kato T, Vanaerschot M, Owen E, Jado JC et al. 2018. Open-source discovery of chemical leads for next-generation chemoprotective antimalarials. Science, 362 (6419), pp. eaat9446-eaat9446. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

To discover leads for next-generation chemoprotective antimalarial drugs, we tested more than 500,000 compounds for their ability to inhibit liver-stage development of luciferase-expressing Plasmodium spp. parasites (681 compounds showed a half-maximal inhibitory concentration of less than 1 micromolar). Cluster analysis identified potent and previously unreported scaffold families as well as other series previously associated with chemoprophylaxis. Further testing through multiple phenotypic assays that predict stage-specific and multispecies antimalarial activity distinguished compound classes that are likely to provide symptomatic relief by reducing asexual blood-stage parasitemia from those which are likely to only prevent malaria. Target identification by using functional assays, in vitro evolution, or metabolic profiling revealed 58 mitochondrial inhibitors but also many chemotypes possibly with previously unidentified mechanisms of action.

Dance DAB, Knappik M, Dittrich S, Davong V, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M, Rattanavong S, Pierret A, Newton P, Amornchai P et al. 2018. Evaluation of consensus method for the culture of Burkholderia pseudomallei in soil samples from Laos Wellcome Open Research, 3 pp. 132-132. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: We have previously shown that PCR following enrichment culture is the most sensitive method to detect Burkholderia pseudomallei in environmental samples. Here we report an evaluation of the published consensus method for the culture of B. pseudomallei from Lao soil in comparison with our conventional culture method and with PCR with or without prior broth enrichment. Methods: One hundred soil samples were collected from a field known to contain B. pseudomallei and processed by: (i) the conventional method, (ii-iii) the consensus method using media prepared in either Laos or Thailand, and (iv) the consensus method performed in Thailand, as well as by (v) PCR following direct extraction of DNA from soil and (vi) PCR following broth pre-enrichment. Results: The numbers of samples in which B. pseudomallei was detected were 42, 10, 7, 6, 6 and 84, respectively. However, two samples were positive by the consensus method but negative by conventional culture, and one sample was negative by PCR following enrichment although B. pseudomallei was isolated by the conventional culture method. Conclusions/Discussion: The results show that no single method will detect all environmental samples that contain B. pseudomallei. People conducting environmental surveys for this organism should be aware of the possibility of false-negative results using the consensus culture method. An approach that entails screening using PCR after enrichment, followed by the evaluation of a range of different culture methods on PCR-positive samples to determine which works best in each setting, is recommended.

Puaprasert K, Chu C, Saralamba N, Day NPJ, Nosten F, White NJ, Dondorp AM, Imwong M. 2018. Real time PCR detection of common CYP2D6 genetic variants and its application in a Karen population study. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 427. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax malaria is characterized by relapses arising from the hypnozoite stages in the liver. The only currently registered drug for radical treatment to prevent relapse is primaquine. Primaquine, a prodrug, requires metabolism through the liver cytochrome CYP2D6 isoenzyme to its active metabolite. Mutations in the CYP2D6 gene may thus affect primaquine efficacy. A SNPs genotyping technique was developed to characterize the CYP2D6 genetic variants and tested this in the patients with Plasmodium vivax infection collected in a Karen population on the Thailand-Myanmar border, where P. vivax malaria is endemic. METHODS: Direct sequencing of PCR-reamplified products (DSP) was used to uncover exonic CYP2D6 sequence variations. Subsequently, an allele-specific oligonucleotide probe real-time SNPs genotyping (ASO) assay was developed for rapid detection of the four clinically relevant CYP2D6 variants occurring in this population. These two in-house developed assays were used to genotype CYP2D6 mutations in blood samples obtained from 70 Karen adults. RESULTS: Results showed a high degree of concordance between the DSP and ASO methods. Six CYP2D6 point mutations were identified within the Karen population: C100T, C1039T, G1661C, G1846A, C2850T and G4180C, at frequencies of 0.43, 0.43, 0.76, 0.02, 0.32 and 0.76, respectively. The CYP2D6*2, *4, *5, *10 and *36 allelic frequencies were 0.33, 0.02, 0.03, 0.40 and 0.01, respectively. Alleles conferring an intermediate CYP2D6 metabolizer phenotype comprised 46% of the total number of alleles. CONCLUSION: The newly developed ASO assay is a reliable and rapid tool for large-scale CYP2D6 genotyping. The high frequency of the CYP2D6*10 allele in the Karen population warrants further assessment of its association with the radical curative efficacy of primaquine.

Haeusler IL, Chan XHS, Guérin PJ, White NJ. 2018. The arrhythmogenic cardiotoxicity of the quinoline and structurally related antimalarial drugs: a systematic review. BMC Med, 16 (1), pp. 200. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Several quinoline and structurally related antimalarial drugs are associated with cardiovascular side effects, particularly hypotension and electrocardiographic QT interval prolongation. A prolonged QT interval is a sensitive but not specific risk marker for the development of Torsade de Pointes-a potentially lethal polymorphic ventricular tachyarrhythmia. The increasing use of quinoline and structurally related antimalarials in mass treatments to eliminate malaria rapidly highlights the need to review their cardiovascular safety profiles. METHODS: The primary objective of this systematic review was to describe the documented clinical and electrocardiographic cardiovascular side effects of quinine, mefloquine, lumefantrine, piperaquine, halofantrine, chloroquine, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, amodiaquine, and primaquine. Trials in healthy subjects or patients with Plasmodium falciparum or P. vivax infection were included if at least two ECGs were conducted during the trial. All trial designs were included except case reports and pooled analyses. Secondary outcomes were the methods adopted by trials for measuring and reporting the QT interval. RESULTS: Data from trials published between 1982 and July 2016 were included. A total of 177 trials met the inclusion criteria. 35,448 participants received quinoline antimalarials in these trials, of which 18,436 participants underwent ECG evaluation. Subjects with co-medication use or comorbidities including cardiovascular disease were excluded from the majority of trials. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was the drug most studied (5083 participants). Despite enormous use over the past 60 years, only 1076, 452, and 150 patients had ECG recordings reported in studies of chloroquine, amodiaquine, and primaquine respectively. Transiently high concentrations of quinine, quinidine, and chloroquine following parenteral administration have all been associated with hypotension, but there were no documented reports of death or syncope attributable to a cardiovascular cause, nor of electrocardiographic recordings of ventricular arrhythmia in these trials. The large volume of missing outcome information and the heterogeneity of ECG interval reporting and measurement methodology did not allow pooled quantitative analysis of QT interval changes. CONCLUSIONS: No serious cardiac adverse effects were recorded in malaria clinical trials of 35,548 participants who received quinoline and structurally related antimalarials with close follow-up including 18,436 individuals who underwent ECG evaluation. While these findings provide further evidence of the rarity of serious cardiovascular events after treatment with these drugs, they also underscore the need for continued strengthening of pharmacovigilance systems for robust detection of rare drug adverse events in real-world populations. A standardised approach to measurement and reporting of ECG data in malaria trials is also needed. TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42016036678.

Cheah PY, Jatupornpimol N, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Khirikoekkong N, Jittamala P, Pukrittayakamee S, Day NPJ, Parker M, Bull S. 2018. Challenges arising when seeking broad consent for health research data sharing: a qualitative study of perspectives in Thailand. BMC Med Ethics, 19 (1), pp. 86. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Research funders, regulatory agencies, and journals are increasingly expecting that individual-level data from health research will be shared. Broad consent to such sharing is considered appropriate, feasible and acceptable in low- and middle-income settings, but to date limited empirical research has been conducted to inform the design of such processes. We examined stakeholder perspectives about how best to seek broad consent to sharing data from the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, which implemented a data sharing policy and broad consent to data sharing in January 2016. METHODS: Between February and August 2017 qualitative data were collected at two sites, Bangkok and the Thai-Myanmar border town of Mae Sot. We conducted eighteen semi-structured interviews. We also conducted four focus group discussions with a total of nineteen people. Descriptive and thematic coding informed analysis of aspects of data sharing that are considered most important to inform participants about, and the best ways to explain complex and abstract topics relating to data sharing. RESULTS: The findings demonstrated that clinical trial participants prioritise information about the potential benefits and harms of data sharing. Stakeholders made multiple suggestions for clarifying information provided about data sharing on such topics. There was significant variation amongst stakeholders' perspectives about how much information should be provided about data sharing, and it was clear that effective information provision should be responsive to the study, the study population, the individual research participant and the research context. CONCLUSIONS: Effectively communicating about data sharing with research participants is challenging in practice, highlighting the importance of robust and effective data sharing governance in this context. Broad consent should incorporate effective and efficient explanations of data sharing to promote informed decision-making, without impeding research participants' understandings of key aspects of the research from which data will be shared. Further work is required to refine both the development of core information about data sharing to be provided to all research participants, and appropriate solutions for context specific-challenges arising when explaining data sharing.

Jang IK, Tyler A, Lyman C, Kahn M, Kalnoky M, Rek JC, Arinaitwe E, Adrama H, Murphy M, Imwong M et al. 2019. Simultaneous Quantification of Plasmodium Antigens and Host Factor C-Reactive Protein in Asymptomatic Individuals with Confirmed Malaria by Use of a Novel Multiplex Immunoassay. J Clin Microbiol, 57 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) primarily detect Plasmodium falciparum antigen histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) and the malaria-conserved antigen lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) for P. vivax and other malaria species. The performance of RDTs and their utility is dependent on circulating antigen concentration distributions in infected individuals in a population in which malaria is endemic and on the limit of detection of the RDT for the antigens. A multiplexed immunoassay for the quantification of HRP2, P. vivax LDH, and all-malaria LDH (pan LDH) was developed to accurately measure circulating antigen concentration and antigen distribution in a population with endemic malaria. The assay also measures C-reactive protein (CRP) levels as an indicator of inflammation. Validation was conducted with clinical specimens from 397 asymptomatic donors from Myanmar and Uganda, confirmed by PCR for infection, and from participants in induced blood-stage malaria challenge studies. The assay lower limits of detection for HRP2, pan LDH, P. vivax LDH, and CRP were 0.2 pg/ml, 9.3 pg/ml, 1.5 pg/ml, and 26.6 ng/ml, respectively. At thresholds for HRP2, pan LDH, and P. vivax LDH of 2.3 pg/ml, 47.8 pg/ml, and 75.1 pg/ml, respectively, and a specificity ≥98.5%, the sensitivities for ultrasensitive PCR-confirmed infections were 93.4%, 84.9%, and 48.9%, respectively. Plasmodium LDH (pLDH) concentration, in contrast to that of HRP2, correlated closely with parasite density. CRP levels were moderately higher in P. falciparum infections with confirmed antigenemia versus those in clinical specimens with no antigen. The 4-plex array is a sensitive tool for quantifying diagnostic antigens in malaria infections and supporting the evaluation of new ultrasensitive RDTs.

Loan HT, Yen LM, Kestelyn: E, Hao NV, Thanh TT, Dung NTP, Turner H, Geskus R, Wolbers M, Tan LV et al. 2018. Intrathecal Immunoglobulin for treatment of adult patients with tetanus: A randomized controlled 2x2 factorial trial Wellcome Open Research, 3 pp. 58-58. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite long-standing availability of an effective vaccine, tetanus remains a significant problem in many countries. Outcome depends on access to mechanical ventilation and intensive care facilities and in settings where these are limited, mortality remains high. Administration of tetanus antitoxin by the intramuscular route is recommended treatment for tetanus, but as the tetanus toxin acts within the central nervous system, it has been suggested that intrathecal administration of antitoxin may be beneficial. Previous studies have indicated benefit, but with the exception of one small trial no blinded studies have been performed. The objective of this study is to establish whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin reduces the need for mechanical ventilation in patients with tetanus. Secondary objectives: to determine whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin reduces autonomic nervous system dysfunction and length of hospital/ intensive care unit stay; whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin in the treatment of tetanus is safe and cost-effective; to provide data to inform recommendation of human rather than equine antitoxin. This study will enroll adult patients (≥16 years old) with tetanus admitted to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City. The study is a 2x2 factorial blinded randomized controlled trial. Eligible patients will be randomized in a 1:1:1:1 manner to the four treatment arms (intrathecal treatment and human intramuscular treatment, intrathecal treatment and equine intramuscular treatment, sham procedure and human intramuscular treatment, sham procedure and equine intramuscular treatment). Primary outcome measure will be requirement for mechanical ventilation. Secondary outcome measures: duration of hospital/ intensive care unit stay, duration of mechanical ventilation, in-hospital and 240-day mortality and disability, new antibiotic prescription, incidence of ventilator associated pneumonia and autonomic nervous system dysfunction, total dose of benzodiazepines and pipecuronium, and incidence of adverse events. Trial registration: NCT02999815 Registration date: 21 December 2016

Pongvongsa T, Phommasone K, Adhikari B, Henriques G, Chotivanich K, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Mukaka M, Peerawaranun P, von Seidlein L, Day NPJ et al. 2018. The dynamic of asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections following mass drug administrations with dihydroarteminisin-piperaquine plus a single low dose of primaquine in Savannakhet Province, Laos. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 405. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The increase in multidrug resistant Plasmodium falciparum infections threatens the malaria elimination goals in countries within the Greater Mekong Sub-region. A multi-pronged approach assuring access to basic malaria control measures, including insecticide-treated bed nets and early diagnosis and treatment was followed by mass drug administrations (MDA) in southern Savannakhet Province, Laos. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of mass drug administrations as well as their effects on the dynamic of asymptomatic P. falciparum infections in 4 malaria endemic villages. METHODS: Two villages were randomized to early MDA consisting of 3 rounds of a 3-day course of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine with a single low dose of primaquine. In the other 2 villages MDA was deferred by 1 year. A total of 1036 residents were enrolled in early MDA villages and 883 in control villages (deferred-MDA). Tri-monthly parasitaemia surveys using uPCR were conducted for a year in the 4 villages. RESULTS: Eighty-four percent (872/1036) of the residents participated in the MDAs, of whom 90% (781/872) completed 3 rounds of MDA (9 doses). In intervention villages, the prevalence of asymptomatic P. falciparum infections decreased by 85% after MDA from 4.8% (95% CI 3.4-6.4) at baseline (month 0 or M0) to 0.7% (95% CI 0.3-1.6) at month 12. In control villages there was a decrease of 33% in P. falciparum prevalence between M0: 17.5% (95% CI 15.9-20.3) and M12: 11.6% (95% CI 9.3-14.2). In bivariate and multivariate analyses P. falciparum infections were significantly reduced with early MDA (adjusted incidence rate ratios (AIRR): 0.08, CI 0.01-0.091) and completion of 3 MDA rounds (AIRR: 0.06; CI 0.01-0.66). A quarter of participants (226/872) reported adverse events of which 99% were mild. CONCLUSION: The study found a significant reduction in P. falciparum prevalence and incidence following MDA. MDA was safe, well tolerated, feasible, and achieved high population coverage and adherence. MDAs must be integrated in multi-pronged approaches such as vector control and preventive measures with a focus on specific risk groups such as mobile, migrant population and forest goers for a sustained period to eliminate the remaining parasite reservoirs. Trial registration Identifier: NCT01872702.

Syed Ahamed Kabeer B, Tomei S, Mattei V, Brummaier T, McGready R, Nosten F, Chaussabel D. 2018. A protocol for extraction of total RNA from finger stick whole blood samples preserved with TempusTM solution F1000Research, 7 pp. 1739-1739. | Show Abstract | Read more

Monitoring of blood transcriptional changes during disease or treatment could improve the understanding of cellular mechanisms associated with that particular condition. This can be achieved through serial sampling of small blood volumes. However, molecular analysis of gene expression from low volume samples remains a challenging task. To address this issue, we have developed a set of standard operating procedures (SOP), starting from collection of small volume blood to measurement of gene expression. Previously we published an SOP for the collection of a small volume of blood via finger stick and stabilization of RNA. The aim of this manuscript is to share a modified Tempus TM solution based RNA extraction method, developed in our lab, for the extraction of total RNA from low volume whole blood samples collected via finger stick.

Jang IK, Das S, Barney RS, Peck RB, Rashid A, Proux S, Arinaitwe E, Rek J, Murphy M, Bowers K et al. 2018. A new highly sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 in whole blood. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 403. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The detection of submicroscopic infections in low prevalence settings has become an increasingly important challenge for malaria elimination strategies. The current field rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for Plasmodium falciparum malaria are inadequate to detect low-density infections. Therefore, there is a need to develop more sensitive field diagnostic tools. In parallel, a highly sensitive laboratory reference assay will be essential to evaluate new diagnostic tools. Recently, the highly sensitive Alere™ Malaria Ag P.f ELISA (HS ELISA) was developed to detect P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) in clinical whole blood specimens. In this study, the analytical and clinical performance of the HS ELISA was determined using recombinant P. falciparum HRP2, P. falciparum native culture parasites, and archived highly pedigreed clinical whole blood specimens from Karen village, Myanmar and Nagongera, Uganda. RESULTS: The HS ELISA has an analytical sensitivity of less than 25 pg/mL and shows strong specificity for P. falciparum HRP2 when tested against P. falciparum native culture strains with pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 gene deletions. Additionally, the Z'-factor statistic of 0.862 indicates the HS ELISA as an excellent, reproducible assay, and the coefficients of variation for inter- and intra-plate testing, 11.76% and 2.51%, were acceptable. Against clinical whole blood specimens with concordant microscopic and PCR results, the HS ELISA showed 100% (95% CI 96.4-100) diagnostic sensitivity and 97.9% (95% CI 94.8-99.4) diagnostic specificity. For P. falciparum positive specimens with HRP2 concentrations below 400 pg/mL, the sensitivity and specificity were 100% (95% CI 88.4-100) and 88.9% (95% CI 70.8-97.6), respectively. The overall sensitivity and specificity for all 352 samples were 100% (CI 95% 96-100%) and 97.3% (CI 95% 94-99%). CONCLUSIONS: The HS ELISA is a robust and reproducible assay. The findings suggest that the HS ELISA may be a useful tool as an affordable reference assay for new ultra-sensitive HRP2-based RDTs.

Das D, Grais RF, Okiro EA, Stepniewska K, Mansoor R, van der Kam S, Terlouw DJ, Tarning J, Barnes KI, Guerin PJ. 2018. Complex interactions between malaria and malnutrition: a systematic literature review. BMC Med, 16 (1), pp. 186. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Despite substantial improvement in the control of malaria and decreased prevalence of malnutrition over the past two decades, both conditions remain heavy burdens that cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in children in resource-poor countries every year. Better understanding of the complex interactions between malaria and malnutrition is crucial for optimally targeting interventions where both conditions co-exist. This systematic review aimed to assess the evidence of the interplay between malaria and malnutrition. METHODS: Database searches were conducted in PubMed, Global Health and Cochrane Libraries and articles published in English, French or Spanish between Jan 1980 and Feb 2018 were accessed and screened. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale and the risk of bias across studies was assessed using the GRADE approach. The preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guideline were followed. RESULTS: Of 2945 articles screened from databases, a total of 33 articles were identified looking at the association between malnutrition and risk of malaria and/or the impact of malnutrition in antimalarial treatment efficacy. Large methodological heterogeneity of studies precluded conducting meaningful aggregated data meta-analysis. Divergent results were reported on the effect of malnutrition on malaria risk. While no consistent association between risk of malaria and acute malnutrition was found, chronic malnutrition was relatively consistently associated with severity of malaria such as high-density parasitemia and anaemia. Furthermore, there is little information on the effect of malnutrition on therapeutic responses to artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) and their pharmacokinetic properties in malnourished children in published literature. CONCLUSIONS: The evidence on the effect of malnutrition on malaria risk remains inconclusive. Further analyses using individual patient data could provide an important opportunity to better understand the variability observed in publications by standardising both malaria and nutritional metrics. Our findings highlight the need to improve our understanding of the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of ACTs in malnourished children. Further clarification on malaria-malnutrition interactions would also serve as a basis for designing future trials and provide an opportunity to optimise antimalarial treatment for this large, vulnerable and neglected population. TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42017056934 .

Robinson MT, Vongphayloth K, Hertz JC, Brey P, Newton PN. 2018. Tick-transmitted human infections in Asia Microbiology Australia, 39 (4), pp. 203-206. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2018 CSIRO. All rights reserved. Vector-borne pathogens of human significance cause a predicted 17% of infectious diseases worldwide, of which, ∼23% are tick transmitted1. Although second to mosquitoes in terms of impact, ticks are thought to carry a greater diversity of pathogens than other arthropod vectors2. Asia is a key region for tick-borne pathogens, with tick species typically restricted to latitudes below 60-55°N3 where the climate is warmer and wetter from the steppe regions of Russia to the tropical rainforests of South East Asia.

Saito M, Gilder ME, McGready R, Nosten F. 2018. Antimalarial drugs for treating and preventing malaria in pregnant and lactating women. Expert Opin Drug Saf, 17 (11), pp. 1129-1144. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Malaria in pregnancy and postpartum cause maternal mortality and adverse fetal outcomes. Efficacious and safe antimalarials are needed to treat and prevent such serious consequences. However, because of the lack of evidence on fetal safety, quinine, an old and less efficacious drug has long been recommended for pregnant women. Uncertainty about safety in relation to breastfeeding leads to withholding of efficacious treatments postpartum or cessation of breastfeeding. Areas covered: A search identified literature on humans in three databases (MEDLINE, Embase and Global health) using pregnancy or lactation, and the names of antimalarial drugs as search terms. Adverse reactions to the mother, fetus or breastfed infant were summarized together with efficacies. Expert opinion: Artemisinins are more efficacious and well-tolerated than quinine in pregnancy. Furthermore, the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth or congenital abnormality were not higher in pregnancies exposed to artemisinin derivatives for treatment of malaria than in pregnancies exposed to quinine or in the comparable background population unexposed to any antimalarials, and this was true for treatment in any trimester. Assessment of safety and efficacy of antimalarials including dose optimization for pregnant women is incomplete. Resistance to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in Plasmodium falciparum and long unprotected intervals between intermittent treatment doses begs reconsideration of current preventative recommendations in pregnancy. Data remain limited on antimalarials during breastfeeding; while most first-line drugs appear safe, further research is needed.

Wittekamp BH, Plantinga NL, Cooper BS, Lopez-Contreras J, Coll P, Mancebo J, Wise MP, Morgan MPG, Depuydt P, Boelens J et al. 2018. Decontamination Strategies and Bloodstream Infections With Antibiotic-Resistant Microorganisms in Ventilated Patients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 320 (20), pp. 2087-2098. | Citations: 6 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Importance: The effects of chlorhexidine (CHX) mouthwash, selective oropharyngeal decontamination (SOD), and selective digestive tract decontamination (SDD) on patient outcomes in ICUs with moderate to high levels of antibiotic resistance are unknown. Objective: To determine associations between CHX 2%, SOD, and SDD and the occurrence of ICU-acquired bloodstream infections with multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria (MDRGNB) and 28-day mortality in ICUs with moderate to high levels of antibiotic resistance. Design, Setting, and Participants: Randomized trial conducted from December 1, 2013, to May 31, 2017, in 13 European ICUs where at least 5% of bloodstream infections are caused by extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae. Patients with anticipated mechanical ventilation of more than 24 hours were eligible. The final date of follow-up was September 20, 2017. Interventions: Standard care was daily CHX 2% body washings and a hand hygiene improvement program. Following a baseline period from 6 to 14 months, each ICU was assigned in random order to 3 separate 6-month intervention periods with either CHX 2% mouthwash, SOD (mouthpaste with colistin, tobramycin, and nystatin), or SDD (the same mouthpaste and gastrointestinal suspension with the same antibiotics), all applied 4 times daily. Main Outcomes and Measures: The occurrence of ICU-acquired bloodstream infection with MDRGNB (primary outcome) and 28-day mortality (secondary outcome) during each intervention period compared with the baseline period. Results: A total of 8665 patients (median age, 64.1 years; 5561 men [64.2%]) were included in the study (2251, 2108, 2224, and 2082 in the baseline, CHX, SOD, and SDD periods, respectively). ICU-acquired bloodstream infection with MDRGNB occurred among 144 patients (154 episodes) in 2.1%, 1.8%, 1.5%, and 1.2% of included patients during the baseline, CHX, SOD, and SDD periods, respectively. Absolute risk reductions were 0.3% (95% CI, -0.6% to 1.1%), 0.6% (95% CI, -0.2% to 1.4%), and 0.8% (95% CI, 0.1% to 1.6%) for CHX, SOD, and SDD, respectively, compared with baseline. Adjusted hazard ratios were 1.13 (95% CI, 0.68-1.88), 0.89 (95% CI, 0.55-1.45), and 0.70 (95% CI, 0.43-1.14) during the CHX, SOD, and SDD periods, respectively, vs baseline. Crude mortality risks on day 28 were 31.9%, 32.9%, 32.4%, and 34.1% during the baseline, CHX, SOD, and SDD periods, respectively. Adjusted odds ratios for 28-day mortality were 1.07 (95% CI, 0.86-1.32), 1.05 (95% CI, 0.85-1.29), and 1.03 (95% CI, 0.80-1.32) for CHX, SOD, and SDD, respectively, vs baseline. Conclusions and Relevance: Among patients receiving mechanical ventilation in ICUs with moderate to high antibiotic resistance prevalence, use of CHX mouthwash, SOD, or SDD was not associated with reductions in ICU-acquired bloodstream infections caused by MDRGNB compared with standard care. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT02208154.

McLean ARD, Wai HP, Thu AM, Khant ZS, Indrasuta C, Ashley EA, Kyaw TT, Day NPJ, Dondorp A, White NJ, Smithuis FM. 2018. Malaria elimination in remote communities requires integration of malaria control activities into general health care: an observational study and interrupted time series analysis in Myanmar. BMC Med, 16 (1), pp. 183. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Community health workers (CHWs) can provide diagnosis and treatment of malaria in remote rural areas and are therefore key to the elimination of malaria. However, as incidence declines, uptake of their services could be compromised if they only treat malaria. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 571,286 malaria rapid diagnostic tests conducted between 2011 and 2016 by 1335 CHWs supported by Medical Action Myanmar. We assessed rates of decline in Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax incidence and rapid diagnostic test (RDT) positivity rates using negative binomial mixed effects models. We investigated whether broadening the CHW remit to provide a basic health care (BHC) package was associated with a change in malaria blood examination rates. RESULTS: Communities with CHWs providing malaria diagnosis and treatment experienced declines in P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria incidence of 70% (95% CI 66-73%) and 64% (59-68%) respectively each year of operation. RDT positivity rates declined similarly with declines of 70% (95% CI 66-73%) for P. falciparum and 65% (95% CI 61-69%) for P. vivax with each year of CHW operation. In four cohorts studied, adding a BHC package was associated with an immediate and sustained increase in blood examination rates (step-change rate ratios 2.3 (95% CI 2.0-2.6), 5.4 (95% CI 4.0-7.3), 1.7 (95% CI 1.4-2.1), and 1.1 (95% CI CONCLUSIONS: CHWs have overseen dramatic declines in P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria in rural Myanmar. Expanding their remit to general health care has sustained community uptake of malaria services. In similar settings, expanding health services offered by CHWs beyond malaria testing and treatment can improve rural health care while ensuring continued progress towards the elimination of malaria.

White NJ. 2018. Anaemia and malaria. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 371. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a major cause of anaemia in tropical areas. Malaria infection causes haemolysis of infected and uninfected erythrocytes and bone marrow dyserythropoiesis which compromises rapid recovery from anaemia. In areas of high malaria transmission malaria nearly all infants and young children, and many older children and adults have a reduced haemoglobin concentration as a result. In these areas severe life-threatening malarial anaemia requiring blood transfusion in young children is a major cause of hospital admission, particularly during the rainy season months when malaria transmission is highest. In severe malaria, the mortality rises steeply below an admission haemoglobin of 3 g/dL, but it also increases with higher haemoglobin concentrations approaching the normal range. In the management of severe malaria transfusion thresholds remain uncertain. Prevention of malaria by vector control, deployment of insecticide-treated bed nets, prompt and accurate diagnosis of illness and appropriate use of effective anti-malarial drugs substantially reduces the burden of anaemia in tropical countries.

Thanh LT, Phan TH, Rattanavong S, Nguyen TM, Duong AV, Dacon C, Hoang TN, Nguyen LPH, Tran CTH, Davong V et al. 2018. Multilocus sequence typing of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii from Laos in a regional and global context. Med Mycol, | Show Abstract | Read more

Cryptococcosis causes approximately 180 000 deaths each year in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Patients with other forms of immunosuppression are also at risk, and disease is increasingly recognized in apparently immunocompetent individuals. Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii, responsible for the majority of cases, is distributed globally. We used the consensus ISHAM Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme to define the population structure of clinical C. neoformans var. grubii isolates from Laos (n = 81), which we placed into the global context using published MLST data from other countries (total N = 1047), including a reanalysis of 136 Vietnamese isolates previously reported. We observed a phylogeographical relationship in which the Laotian population was similar to its neighbor Thailand, being dominated (83%) by Sequence Types (ST) 4 and 6. This phylogeographical structure changed moving eastwards, with Vietnam's population consisting of an admixture of isolates dominated by the ST4/ST6 (35%) and ST5 (48%) lineages. The ST5 lineage is the predominant ST reported from China and East Asia, where it accounts for >90% of isolates. Analysis of genetic distance (Fst) between different populations of C. neoformans var. grubii supports this intermediate structure of the Vietnamese population. The pathogen and host diversity reported from Vietnam provide the strongest epidemiological evidence of the association between ST5 and HIV-uninfected patients. Regional anthropological genetic distances suggest diversity in the C. neoformans var. grubii population across Southeast Asia is driven by ecological rather than human host factors. Where the ST5 lineage is present, disease in HIV-uninfected patients is to be expected.

Dance DAB, Knappik M, Dittrich S, Davong V, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M, Rattanavong S, Pierret A, Newton PN, Amornchai P et al. 2018. Evaluation of consensus method for the culture of Burkholderia pseudomallei in soil samples from Laos. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 132. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: We have previously shown that PCR following enrichment culture is the most sensitive method to detect Burkholderia pseudomallei in environmental samples. Here we report an evaluation of the published consensus method for the culture of B. pseudomallei from Lao soil in comparison with our conventional culture method and with PCR with or without prior broth enrichment. Methods: One hundred soil samples were collected from a field known to contain B. pseudomallei and processed by: (i) the conventional method, (ii-iii) the consensus method using media prepared in either Laos or Thailand, and (iv) the consensus method performed in Thailand, as well as by (v) PCR following direct extraction of DNA from soil and (vi) PCR following broth pre-enrichment. Results: The numbers of samples in which B. pseudomallei was detected were 42, 10, 7, 6, 6 and 84, respectively. However, two samples were positive by the consensus method but negative by conventional culture, and one sample was negative by PCR following enrichment although B. pseudomallei was isolated by the conventional culture method. Conclusions/Discussion: The results show that no single method will detect all environmental samples that contain B. pseudomallei. People conducting environmental surveys for this organism should be aware of the possibility of false-negative results using the consensus culture method. An approach that entails screening using PCR after enrichment, followed by the evaluation of a range of different culture methods on PCR-positive samples to determine which works best in each setting, is recommended.

Crellen T, Turner P, Pol S, Baker S, Nguyen Thi Nguyen T, Stoesser N, Day NPJ, Cooper B. 2018. Transmission dynamics and between-species interactions of multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae | Show Abstract | Read more

Widespread resistance to antibiotics is among the gravest threats to modern medicine, and controlling the spread of multi-drug resistant Enterobacteriaceae has been given priority status by the World Health Organization. Interventions to reduce transmission within hospital wards may be informed by modifiable patient-level risk factors for becoming colonised, however understanding of factors that influence a patient's risk of acquisition is limited. We analyse data from a one year prospective carriage study in a neonatal intensive care unit in Cambodia using Bayesian hierarchical models to estimate the daily probability of acquiring multi-drug resistant organisms, while accounting for patient-level time-varying covariates, including interactions between species, and interval-censoring of transmission events. We estimate the baseline daily probability for becoming colonised with third generation cephalosporin resistant (3GC-R) Klebsiella pneumoniae as 0.142 (95% credible interval [CrI] 0.066, 0.27), nearly ten times higher than the daily probability of acquiring 3GC-R Escherichia coli (0.016 [95% CrI 0.0038, 0.049]). Prior colonization with 3GC-R K. pneumoniae was associated with a greatly increased risk of a patient acquiring 3GC-R E. coli (odds ratio [OR] 6.4 [95% CrI 2.8, 20.9]). Breast feeding was associated with a reduced risk of colonization with both 3GC-R K. pneumoniae (OR 0.73 [95% CrI 0.38, 1.5]) and E. coli (OR 0.62 [95% CrI 0.28, 1.6]). The use of an oral probiotic (Lactobacillus acidophilus) did not show clear evidence of protection against colonization with either 3GC-R K. pneumoniae (OR 0.83 [95% CrI 0.51, 1.3]) or 3GC- R E. coli (OR 1.3 [95% CrI 0.77, 2.1]). Antibiotic consumption within the past 48 hours did not strongly influence the risk of acquiring 3GC-R K. pneumoniae. For 3GC-R E. coli, ceftriaxone showed the strongest effect for increasing the risk of acquisition (OR 2.2 [95% CrI 0.66, 6.2]) and imipenem was associated with a decreased risk (OR 0.31 [95% CrI 0.099, 0.76). Using 317 whole-genome assemblies of K. pneumoniae, we determined putatively related clusters and used a range of models to infer transmission rates. Model comparison strongly favored models with a time-varying force of infection term that increased in proportion with the number of colonized patients, providing evidence of patient-to-patient transmission including among a cluster of Klebsiella quasipneumoniae. Our findings provide support for the hypothesis that K. pneumoniae can be spread person-to-person within ward settings. Subsequent horizontal gene transfer within patients from K. pneumoniae provides the most parsimonious explanation for the strong association between colonization with 3GC-R K. pneumoniae and acquisition of 3GC-R E. coli.

Birnie E, Claushuis TAM, Koh GCKW, Limmathurotsakul D, Day NPJ, Roelofs JJTH, Ware J, Hou B, de Vos AF, van der Poll T et al. 2019. Thrombocytopenia Impairs Host Defense Against Burkholderia pseudomallei (Melioidosis). J Infect Dis, 219 (4), pp. 648-659. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Infection with the gram-negative bacillus Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis) is an important cause of pneumosepsis in Southeast Asia and has a mortality of up to 40%. We aimed to assess the role of platelets in the host response against B. pseudomallei infection. Methods: Association between platelet counts and mortality was determined in 1160 patients with culture-proven melioidosis. Mice treated with (low- or high-dose) platelet-depleting antibody were inoculated intranasally with B. pseudomallei and killed. Additional studies using functional glycoprotein Ibα-deficient mice were conducted. Results: Thrombocytopenia was present in 31% of patients at admission and predicted mortality in melioidosis patients even after adjustment for confounders. In our murine-melioidosis model, platelet counts decreased, and mice treated with a platelet-depleting antibody showed enhanced mortality and higher bacterial loads compared to mice with normal platelet counts. Low platelet counts had a modest impact on early-pulmonary neutrophil influx. Reminiscent of their role in hemostasis, platelet depletion impaired vascular integrity, resulting in early lung bleeding. Glycoprotein Ibα-deficient mice had reduced platelet counts during B. pseudomallei infection together with an impaired local host defense in the lung. Conclusions: Thrombocytopenia predicts mortality in melioidosis patients and, during experimental melioidosis, platelets play a protective role in both innate immunity and vascular integrity.

Oonsivilai M, Mo Y, Luangasanatip N, Lubell Y, Miliya T, Tan P, Loeuk L, Turner P, Cooper BS. 2018. Using machine learning to guide targeted and locally-tailored empiric antibiotic prescribing in a children's hospital in Cambodia. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 131. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Early and appropriate empiric antibiotic treatment of patients suspected of having sepsis is associated with reduced mortality. The increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance reduces the efficacy of empiric therapy guidelines derived from population data. This problem is particularly severe for children in developing country settings. We hypothesized that by applying machine learning approaches to readily collect patient data, it would be possible to obtain individualized predictions for targeted empiric antibiotic choices. Methods and Findings: We analysed blood culture data collected from a 100-bed children's hospital in North-West Cambodia between February 2013 and January 2016. Clinical, demographic and living condition information was captured with 35 independent variables. Using these variables, we used a suite of machine learning algorithms to predict Gram stains and whether bacterial pathogens could be treated with common empiric antibiotic regimens: i) ampicillin and gentamicin; ii) ceftriaxone; iii) none of the above. 243 patients with bloodstream infections were available for analysis. We found that the random forest method had the best predictive performance overall as assessed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). The random forest method gave an AUC of 0.80 (95%CI 0.66-0.94) for predicting susceptibility to ceftriaxone, 0.74 (0.59-0.89) for susceptibility to ampicillin and gentamicin, 0.85 (0.70-1.00) for susceptibility to neither, and 0.71 (0.57-0.86) for Gram stain result. Most important variables for predicting susceptibility were time from admission to blood culture, patient age, hospital versus community-acquired infection, and age-adjusted weight score. Conclusions: Applying machine learning algorithms to patient data that are readily available even in resource-limited hospital settings can provide highly informative predictions on antibiotic susceptibilities to guide appropriate empiric antibiotic therapy. When used as a decision support tool, such approaches have the potential to improve targeting of empiric therapy, patient outcomes and reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance.

Chaichana P, Jenjaroen K, Amornchai P, Chumseng S, Langla S, Rongkard P, Sumonwiriya M, Jeeyapant A, Chantratita N, Teparrukkul P et al. 2018. Antibodies in Melioidosis: The Role of the Indirect Hemagglutination Assay in Evaluating Patients and Exposed Populations. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 99 (6), pp. 1378-1385. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is a major neglected tropical disease with high mortality, caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp). Microbiological culture remains the gold standard for diagnosis, but a simpler and more readily available test such as an antibody assay is highly desirable. In this study, we conducted a serological survey of blood donors (n = 1,060) and adult melioidosis patients (n = 200) in northeast Thailand to measure the antibody response to Bp using the indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA). We found that 38% of healthy adults (aged 17-59 years) have seropositivity (IHA titer ≥ 1:80). The seropositivity in healthy blood donors was associated with having a declared occupation of rice farmer and with residence in a nonurban area, but not with gender or age. In the melioidosis cohort, the seropositivity rate was higher in adult patients aged between 18 and 45 years (90%, 37/41) compared with those aged ≥ 45 years (68%, 108/159, P = 0.004). The seropositivity rate was significantly higher in people with diabetes (P = 0.008). Seropositivity was associated with decreased mortality on univariable analysis (P = 0.005), but not on multivariable analysis when adjusted for age, diabetes status, preexisting renal disease, and neutrophil count. This study confirms the presence of high background antibodies in an endemic region and demonstrates the limitations of using IHA during acute melioidosis in this population.

Phuklia W, Panyanivong P, Sengdetka D, Sonthayanon P, Newton PN, Paris DH, Day NPJ, Dittrich S. 2019. Novel high-throughput screening method using quantitative PCR to determine the antimicrobial susceptibility of Orientia tsutsugamushi clinical isolates. J Antimicrob Chemother, 74 (1), pp. 74-81. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objectives: To develop a method to enable the large-scale antimicrobial susceptibility screening of Orientia tsutsugamushi clinical isolates, using one timepoint and one concentration of antibiotics to considerably speed up the time to result. Methods: Growth, harvesting, multiplicity of infection (moi) and the day to determine the MICs were optimized using five O. tsutsugamushi reference strains [susceptible (Karp, Kato and Gilliam) and putatively resistant (AFC-3 and AFSC-4)], one clinical isolate (UT76) and one rodent isolate (TA763). Subsequently, the MICs of azithromycin, chloramphenicol and doxycycline for these strains and 51 clinical isolates including AFSC-7 were determined. An optimal concentration was calculated using the epidemiological cut-off value. Results: The conditions for O. tsutsugamushi infection, growth and harvesting were determined to be an moi of 100:1 and trypsinization with the peak growth on day 10. The resulting MICs were in line with previously published susceptibility data for all reference strains, except for Karp and AFSC-4, which showed azithromycin MICs of 0.0156 and 0.0313 mg/L, compared with 0.0078 and 0.0156 mg/L, respectively, in previous reports. The MIC of doxycycline for AFC-3 was 0.125 mg/L compared with >4 mg/L in earlier reports. The final single screening concentrations were identified as: azithromycin, 0.125 mg/L; chloramphenicol, 8 mg/L; and doxycycline, 1 mg/L. Conclusions: This simplified procedure facilitates the simultaneous screening of 48 isolates for actively monitoring potential resistance of this important fever pathogen, with an 8-fold throughput improvement over early methods. The data do not support the existence of doxycycline- and chloramphenicol-resistant scrub typhus.

Greer RC, Wangrangsimakul T, Amornchai P, Wuthiekanun V, Laongnualpanich A, Dance DAB, Limmathurotsakul D. 2019. Misidentification of Burkholderia pseudomallei as Acinetobacter species in northern Thailand. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 113 (1), pp. 48-51. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis, a disease endemic throughout the tropics. Methods: A study of reported Acinetobacter spp. bacteraemia was performed at Chiang Rai provincial hospital from 2014 to 2015. Isolates were collected and tested for confirmation. Results: A total of 419 putative Acinetobacter spp. isolates from 412 patients were re-identified and 5/419 (1.2%) were identified as B. pseudomallei. Four of the five patients with melioidosis died. An estimated 88/419 (21%) isolates were correctly identified as Acinetobacter spp. Conclusions: Misidentification of Acinetobacter spp. as B. pseudomallei or other bacteria is not uncommon and programmes to address these shortfalls are urgently required.

Ye W, Chew M, Hou J, Lai F, Leopold SJ, Loo HL, Ghose A, Dutta AK, Chen Q, Ooi EE et al. 2018. Microvesicles from malaria-infected red blood cells activate natural killer cells via MDA5 pathway. PLoS Pathog, 14 (10), pp. e1007298. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Natural killer (NK) cells provide the first line of defense against malaria parasite infection. However, the molecular mechanisms through which NK cells are activated by parasites are largely unknown, so is the molecular basis underlying the variation in NK cell responses to malaria infection in the human population. Here, we compared transcriptional profiles of responding and non-responding NK cells following exposure to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (iRBCs) and identified MDA5, a RIG-I-like receptor involved in sensing cytosolic RNAs, to be differentially expressed. Knockout of MDA5 in responding human NK cells by CRISPR/cas9 abolished NK cell activation, IFN-γ secretion, lysis of iRBCs. Similarly, inhibition of TBK1/IKKε, an effector molecule downstream of MDA5, also inhibited activation of responding NK cells. Conversely, activation of MDA5 by liposome-packaged poly I:C restored non-responding NK cells to lyse iRBCs. We further show that microvesicles containing large parasite RNAs from iRBCs activated NK cells by fusing with NK cells. These findings suggest that NK cells are activated through the MDA5 pathway by parasite RNAs that are delivered to the cytoplasm of NK cells by microvesicles from iRBCs. The difference in MDA5 expression between responding and non-responding NK cells following exposure to iRBCs likely contributes to the variation in NK cell responses to malaria infection in the human population.

Kennedy S, Victora C, Craik R, Ash S, Barros F, Barsosio H, Berkley J, Carvalho M, Fernandes M, Cheikh Ismail L et al. 2018. Deep clinical and biological phenotyping of the preterm birth and small for gestational age syndromes: The INTERBIO-21st Newborn Case-Control Study protocol Gates Open Research, 2 pp. 49-49. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: INTERBIO-21 st is Phase II of the INTERGROWTH-21 st Project, the population-based, research initiative involving nearly 70,000 mothers and babies worldwide coordinated by Oxford University and performed by a multidisciplinary network of more than 400 healthcare professionals and scientists from 35 institutions in 21 countries worldwide. Phase I, conducted 2008-2015, consisted of nine complementary studies designed to describe optimal human growth and neurodevelopment, based conceptually on the WHO prescriptive approach. The studies generated a set of international standards for monitoring growth and neurodevelopment, which complement the existing WHO Child Growth Standards. Phase II aims to improve the functional classification of the highly heterogenous preterm birth and fetal growth restriction syndromes through a better understanding of how environmental exposures, clinical conditions and nutrition influence patterns of human growth from conception to childhood, as well as specific neurodevelopmental domains and associated behaviors at 2 years of age. Methods: In the INTERBIO-21 st Newborn Case-Control Study, a major component of Phase II, our objective is to investigate the mechanisms potentially responsible for preterm birth and small for gestational age and their interactions, using deep phenotyping of clinical, growth and epidemiological data and associated nutritional, biochemical, omic and histological profiles. Here we describe the study sites, population characteristics, study design, methodology and standardization procedures for the collection of longitudinal clinical data and biological samples (maternal blood, umbilical cord blood, placental tissue, maternal feces and infant buccal swabs) for the study that was conducted between 2012 and 2018 in Brazil, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand and the UK. Discussion: Our study provides a unique resource for the planned analyses given the range of potentially disadvantageous exposures (including poor nutrition, pregnancy complications and infections) in geographically diverse populations worldwide. The study should enhance current medical knowledge and provide new insights into environmental influences on human growth and neurodevelopment.

Certoma A, Lunt RA, Vosloo W, Smith I, Colling A, Williams DT, Tran T, Blacksell SD. 2018. Assessment of a Rabies Virus Rapid Diagnostic Test for the Detection of Australian Bat Lyssavirus. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (4), pp. 109-109. | Show Abstract | Read more

Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) is closely related to the classical rabies virus and has been associated with three human fatalities and two equine fatalities in Australia. ABLV infection in humans causes encephalomyelitis, resulting in fatal disease, but has no effective therapy. The virus is maintained in enzootic circulation within fruit bats (Pteropid spp.) and at least one insectivorous bat variety (Saccolaimusflaviventris). Most frequently, laboratory testing is conducted on pteropodid bat brains, either following a potential human exposure through bites, scratches and other direct contacts with bats, or as opportunistic assessment of sick or dead bats. The level of medical intervention and post-exposure prophylaxis is largely determined on laboratory testing for antigen/virus as the demonstrable infection status of the in-contact bat. This study evaluates the comparative diagnostic performance of a lateral flow test, Anigen Rabies Ag detection rapid test (RDT), in pteropodid variant of ABLV-infected bat brain tissues. The RDT demonstrated 100% agreement with the reference standard fluorescent antibody test on 43 clinical samples suggesting a potential application in rapid diagnosis of pteropodid variant of ABLV infection. A weighted Kappa value of 0.95 confirmed a high level of agreement between both tests.

Lubell Y, Do NTT, Nguyen KV, Ta NTD, Tran NTH, Than HM, Hoang LB, Shrestha P, van Doorn RH, Nadjm B, Wertheim HFL. 2018. C-reactive protein point of care testing in the management of acute respiratory infections in the Vietnamese primary healthcare setting - a cost benefit analysis. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control, 7 (1), pp. 119. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Aim: We assess the cost-benefit implications of C-reactive protein (CRP) testing in reducing antibiotic prescription for acute respiratory infection in Viet Nam by comparing the incremental costs of CRP testing with the economic costs of antimicrobial resistance averted due to lower antibiotic prescribing. Findings: Patients in the CRP group and the controls incurred similar costs in managing their illness, excluding the costs of the quantitative CRP tests, provided free of charge in the trial context. Assuming a unit cost of $1 per test, the incremental cost of CRP testing was $0.93 per patient. Based on a previous modelling analysis, the 20 percentage point reduction in prescribing observed in the trial implies a societal benefit of $0.82 per patient. With the low levels of adherence to the test results observed in the trial, CRP testing would not be cost-beneficial. The sensitivity analyses showed, however, that with higher adherence to test results their use would be cost-beneficial.

Fleshman A, Mullins K, Sahl J, Hepp C, Nieto N, Wiggins K, Hornstra H, Kelly D, Chan T-C, Phetsouvanh R et al. 2018. Corrigendum: Comparative pan-genomic analyses of Orientia tsutsugamushi reveal an exceptional model of bacterial evolution driving genomic diversity. Microb Genom, 4 (10), | Read more

Poostchi M, Ersoy I, McMenamin K, Gordon E, Palaniappan N, Pierce S, Maude RJ, Bansal A, Srinivasan P, Miller L et al. 2018. Malaria parasite detection and cell counting for human and mouse using thin blood smear microscopy. J Med Imaging (Bellingham), 5 (4), pp. 044506. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite the remarkable progress that has been made to reduce global malaria mortality by 29% in the past 5 years, malaria is still a serious global health problem. Inadequate diagnostics is one of the major obstacles in fighting the disease. An automated system for malaria diagnosis can help to make malaria screening faster and more reliable. We present an automated system to detect and segment red blood cells (RBCs) and identify infected cells in Wright-Giemsa stained thin blood smears. Specifically, using image analysis and machine learning techniques, we process digital images of thin blood smears to determine the parasitemia in each smear. We use a cell extraction method to segment RBCs, in particular overlapping cells. We show that a combination of RGB color and texture features outperforms other features. We evaluate our method on microscopic blood smear images from human and mouse and show that it outperforms other techniques. For human cells, we measure an absolute error of 1.18% between the true and the automatic parasite counts. For mouse cells, our automatic counts correlate well with expert and flow cytometry counts. This makes our system the first one to work for both human and mouse.

Perez-Guzman PN, Carlos Junior Alcantara L, Obolski U, de Lima MM, Ashley EA, Smithuis F, Horby P, Maude RJ, Lin Z, Kyaw AMM, Lourenço J. 2018. Measuring Mosquito-borne Viral Suitability in Myanmar and Implications for Local Zika Virus Transmission. PLoS Curr, 10 | Show Abstract | Read more

Introduction: In South East Asia, mosquito-borne viruses (MBVs) have long been a cause of high disease burden and significant economic costs. While in some SEA countries the epidemiology of MBVs is spatio-temporally well characterised and understood, in others such as Myanmar our understanding is largely incomplete. Materials and Methods: Here, we use a simple mathematical approach to estimate a climate-driven suitability index aiming to better characterise the intrinsic, spatio-temporal potential of MBVs in Myanmar. Results: Results show that the timing and amplitude of the natural oscillations of our suitability index are highly informative for the temporal patterns of DENV case counts at the country level, and a mosquito-abundance measure at a city level. When projected at fine spatial scales, the suitability index suggests that the time period of highest MBV transmission potential is between June and October independently of geographical location. Higher potential is nonetheless found along the middle axis of the country and in particular in the southern corridor of international borders with Thailand. Discussion: This research complements and expands our current understanding of MBV transmission potential in Myanmar, by identifying key spatial heterogeneities and temporal windows of importance for surveillance and control. We discuss our findings in the context of Zika virus given its recent worldwide emergence, public health impact, and current lack of information on its epidemiology and transmission potential in Myanmar. The proposed suitability index here demonstrated is applicable to other regions of the world for which surveillance data is missing, either due to lack of resources or absence of an MBV of interest.

Cooper BS, White LJ, Siddiqui R. 2018. Reactive and pre-emptive vaccination strategies to control hepatitis E infection in emergency and refugee settings: A modelling study. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (9), pp. e0006807. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) is the leading cause of acute viral hepatitis globally. Symptomatic infection is associated with case fatality rates of ~20% in pregnant women and it is estimated to account for ~10,000 annual pregnancy-related deaths in southern Asia alone. Recently, large and well-documented outbreaks with high mortality have occurred in displaced population camps in Sudan, Uganda and South Sudan. However, the epidemiology of HEV is poorly defined, and the value of different immunisation strategies in outbreak settings uncertain. We aimed to estimate the critical epidemiological parameters for HEV and to evaluate the potential impact of both reactive vaccination (initiated in response to an epidemic) and pre-emptive vaccination. METHODS: We analysed data from one of the world's largest recorded HEV epidemics, which occurred in internally-displaced persons camps in Uganda (2007-2009), using transmission dynamic models to estimate epidemiological parameters and assess the potential impact of reactive and pre-emptive vaccination strategies. RESULTS: Under baseline assumptions we estimated the basic reproduction number of HEV in three separate camps to range from 3.7 (95% Credible Interval [CrI] 2.8, 5.1) to 8.5 (5.3, 11.4). Mean latent and infectious periods were estimated to be 34 (95% CrI 28, 39) and 40 (95% CrI 23, 71) days respectively. Assuming 90% vaccine coverage, reactive two-dose vaccination of those aged 16-65 years excluding pregnant women (for whom vaccine is not licensed), if initiated after 50 reported cases, led to mean camp-specific reductions in mortality of 10 to 29%. Pre-emptive vaccination with two doses reduced mortality by 35 to 65%. Both strategies were more effective if coverage was extended to groups for whom the vaccine is not currently licensed. For example, two dose pre-emptive vaccination, if extended to include pregnant women, led to mean reductions in mortality of 66 to 82%. CONCLUSIONS: HEV has a high transmission potential in displaced population settings. Substantial reductions in mortality through vaccination are expected, even if used reactively. There is potential for greater impact if vaccine safety and effectiveness can be established in pregnant women.

Tangseefa D, Monthathip K, Tuenpakdee N, König A, Kajeechiwa L, Thwin MM, Nosten S, Tun SW, Ma K, Hashmi A et al. 2018. "Nine Dimensions": A multidisciplinary approach for community engagement in a complex postwar border region as part of the targeted malaria elimination in Karen/Kayin State, Myanmar. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 116. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: In light of growing antimalarial drug resistance in Southeast Asia, control programmes have become increasingly focused on malaria elimination, composed of mass drug administration coupled with prompt diagnosis and treatment of symptomatic cases. The key to a successful elimination programme centres on high participation rates in targeted communities, often enhanced by community engagement (CE) efforts. Social science research was conducted to develop a conceptual framework used for CE activities in the Targeted Malaria Elimination programme, as a cross-border operation in Karen/Kayin State, Myanmar. Methods: Data was collected from three main sources: (1) participant observation and semi-structured interviews of CE team members; (2) participant observation and semi-structured interviews with villagers; and (3) records of CE workshops with CE workers conducted as part of the TME programme. Results: Interviews were conducted with 17 CE team members, with 10 participant observations and interviews conducted with villagers and a total of 3 workshops conducted over the course of this pilot programme in 4 villages (November 2013 to October 2014). Thematic analysis was used to construct the nine dimensions for CE in this complex, post-war region: i) history of the people; ii) space; iii) work; iv) knowledge about the world; v) intriguing obstacle (rumour); vi) relationship with the health care system; vii) migration; viii) logic of capitalism influencing openness; and ix) power relations. Conclusions: Conducting CE for the Targeted Malaria Elimination programme was immensely complicated in Karen/Kayin State because of three key realities: heterogeneous terrains, a post-war atmosphere and cross-border operations. These three key realities constituted the nine dimensions, which proved integral to health worker success in conducting CE. Summary of this approach can aid in infectious disease control programmes, such as those using mass drug administration, to engender high rates of community participation.

Wongsuvan G, Hantrakun V, Teparrukkul P, Imwong M, West TE, Wuthiekanun V, Day NPJ, AuCoin D, Limmathurotsakul D. 2018. Sensitivity and specificity of a lateral flow immunoassay (LFI) in serum samples for diagnosis of melioidosis. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 112 (12), pp. 568-570. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Culture is the gold standard for the diagnosis of melioidosis, an infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei. Here we evaluate a lateral flow immunoassay (LFI) to detect B. pseudomallei capsular polysaccharide (CPS) in serum samples. Methods: Patients with culture from any clinical specimen positive for B. pseudomallei were selected as cases. Patients who were blood culture positive for Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae as well as those who were malaria or dengue polymerase chain reaction assay positive were selected as controls. Results: The sensitivity of the LFI was 31.3% (60/192 case patients [95% confidence interval {CI} 24.8 to 38.3]) and the specificity was 98.8% (559/566 control patients [95% CI 97.4 to 99.5]) in serum samples. Conclusions: Although LFI may have limited sensitivity in serum, it can rapidly diagnose melioidosis in resource-limited settings.

Srimuang K, Miotto O, Lim P, Fairhurst RM, Kwiatkowski DP, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M, Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration. 2018. Correction to: Analysis of anti-malarial resistance markers in pfmdr1 and pfcrt across Southeast Asia in the Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 325. | Show Abstract | Read more

Following publication of the original article [1], one of the authors has highlighted an xml-related discrepancy concerning the author group titled 'Additional Tracking Resistance to Artemisinin Collaboration authors (TRAC Group Authorship)', listed under the Acknowledgements section.

Suntornsut P, Chaowagul W, Thongklang W, Phosri T, Day NPJ, Michie S, Limmathurotsakul D. 2018. Feasibility and initial outcomes of a multifaceted prevention programme of melioidosis in diabetic patients in Ubon Ratchathani, northeast Thailand. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (9), pp. e0006765. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidosis is an infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, a Gram-negative bacillus found in soil and water. Diabetes mellitus is the most important risk factor for melioidosis. The recommendations for disease prevention include avoiding direct contact with soil and water, and drinking only boiled or bottled water. METHODS: A prospective intervention study was conducted to evaluate the feasibility and behavioural outcomes of a multifaceted prevention programme for melioidosis. Participants were diabetic adults in Ubon Ratchathani, northeast Thailand. Ten behavioural support groups consisting of 6 to 10 participants per group were conducted. Twelve behaviour change techniques were used: information about health consequences, credible source, adding objects to the environment, reconstructing the physical environment, instruction on how to perform a behaviour, demonstration of the behaviour, commitment, prompts/cues, self-monitoring of behaviour, goal setting, feedback on behaviour, and social support, and their feasibilities evaluated. RESULTS: There were 70 participants, of median age 59 years and 52 (74%) were female. Participants found the intervention beneficial, interesting and engaging. Participants indicated that they liked to watch videos with information about melioidosis delivered by local doctors and patients who survived melioidosis, and videos showing use of over-the-knee boots by local farmers. Participants felt engaged in the sessions that trialed protective gear and that made calendars with individual photographs and self-pledges as a reminder tool. The proportions of participants reporting that they always wore boots while working in rice fields increased from 30% (10/33) to 77% (28/37, p = 0.04), and that they drank only boiled or bottle water increased from 43% (30/70) to 86% (59/69, p<0.001) at 6 months post intervention. CONCLUSION: The programme is highly acceptable to participants, and can support behaviour change. Policy makers should consider implementing the programme in areas where melioidosis is endemic. Making calendars with individual photographs and self-pledges as a reminder tool could be powerful in behaviour change interventions, and further research on this component is needed.

San Martin PFM, Chua JC, Bautista RLP, Nailes JM, Panaligan MM, Dance DAB. 2018. Melioidosis in the Philippines. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (3), pp. 99-99. | Show Abstract | Read more

The first documented case of melioidosis in the Philippines occurred in 1948. Since then, there have been sporadic reports in the literature about travelers diagnosed with melioidosis after returning from the Philippines. Indigenous cases, however, have been documented rarely, and under-reporting is highly likely. This review collated all Philippine cases of melioidosis published internationally and locally, as well as unpublished case series and reports from different tertiary hospitals in the Philippines. In total, 25 papers and 41 cases were identified. Among these, 23 were indigenous cases (of which 20 have not been previously reported in the literature). The most common co-morbidity present was diabetes mellitus, and the most common presentations were pulmonary and soft tissue infections. Most of the cases received ceftazidime during the intensive phase, while trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was given during the eradication phase. The known mortality rate was 14.6%, while 4.9% of all cases were reported to have had recurrence. The true burden of melioidosis in the country is not well defined. A lack of awareness among clinicians, a dearth of adequate laboratories, and the absence of a surveillance system for the disease are major challenges in determining the magnitude of the problem.

Thielemans L, Hashmi A, Priscilla DD, Kho Paw M, Pimolsorntong T, Ngerseng T, Van Overmeire B, Proux S, Nosten F, McGready R et al. 2018. Laboratory validation and field usability assessment of a point-of-care test for serum bilirubin levels in neonates in a tropical setting Wellcome Open Research, 3 pp. 110-110. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Screening and monitoring serum bilirubin (SBR) in neonates is crucial to prevent neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (NH)-associated morbidity and mortality worldwide. A lack of resources is often a barrier for measuring SBR in developing countries. Reliable, cost-effective, easy to use point-of-care (POC) SBR tests are needed. This study aimed to evaluate the technical accuracy and usability of the Bilistick System (BS), a new bilirubin POC test, in a tropical setting. Methods: This was a mixed-methods study, including laboratory validation of the BS, direct observation of technical procedures as performed by the midwives and midwives’ assessment of the device’s easiness of use through focus group discussions (FGD) and a self-administered questionnaire. The study was conducted in a field clinic of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit along the Thailand-Myanmar border between January and December 2017. Results: A total of 173 samples were tested at a median age of 4 days. BS generated an error message—providing no SBR readout—in 48.6% of the tests performed. For the tests that yielded a result, the correlation coefficient (95% CI) between BS and routine laboratory bilirubinometer SBR was 0.87 (0.77-0.93). The accuracy decreased with increasing haematocrit and at higher humidity (≥75%). Direct observation of the operators using the device and analysis of the focus group discussions and questionnaires indicated that the BS was considered easy to use and required limited training. Conclusions: This evaluation showed that the BS, in its current formulation, does not provide reliable results for measuring SBR in a tropical, low-resource setting  but has acceptable usability features.

Thielemans L, Hashmi A, Priscilla DD, Kho Paw M, Pimolsorntong T, Ngerseng T, Van Overmeire B, Proux S, Nosten F, McGready R et al. 2018. Laboratory validation and field usability assessment of a point-of-care test for serum bilirubin levels in neonates in a tropical setting. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 110. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Screening and monitoring serum bilirubin (SBR) in neonates is crucial to prevent neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (NH)-associated morbidity and mortality worldwide. A lack of resources is often a barrier for measuring SBR in developing countries. Reliable, cost-effective, easy to use point-of-care (POC) SBR tests are needed. This study aimed to evaluate the technical accuracy and usability of the Bilistick System (BS), a new bilirubin POC test, in a tropical setting. Methods: This was a mixed-methods study, including laboratory validation of the BS, direct observation of technical procedures as performed by the midwives and midwives' assessment of the device's easiness of use through focus group discussions (FGD) and a self-administered questionnaire. The study was conducted in a field clinic of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit along the Thailand-Myanmar border between January and December 2017. Results: A total of 173 samples were tested at a median age of 4 days. BS generated an error message-providing no SBR readout-in 48.6% of the tests performed. For the tests that yielded a result, the correlation coefficient (95% CI) between BS and routine laboratory bilirubinometer SBR was 0.87 (0.77-0.93). The accuracy decreased with increasing haematocrit and at higher humidity (≥75%). Direct observation of the operators using the device and analysis of the focus group discussions and questionnaires indicated that the BS was considered easy to use and required limited training. Conclusions: This evaluation showed that the BS, in its current formulation, does not provide reliable results for measuring SBR in a tropical, low-resource setting  but has acceptable usability features.

Kam RK-T, Chan MH-M, Wong H-T, Ghose A, Dondorp AM, Plewes K, Tarning J. 2018. Quantitation of paracetamol by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in human plasma in support of clinical trial. Future Sci OA, 4 (8), pp. FSO331. | Show Abstract | Read more

Aim: Paracetamol is a well-tolerated antipyretic widely used in severe malaria management. The study aimed to develop and validate a rapid LC-MS/MS assay to quantify paracetamol in plasma from patients with severe malaria. Materials & methods: Plasma sample was precipitated by organic solvent containing isotope-labeled paracetamol internal standard. Supernatant was isolated, diluted with water, followed by LC-MS/MS analysis. Results: Plasma samples were extracted and assayed in less than 5.5 min. The assay response was linear (0.125-50 mg/l) with total intra- and interassay imprecision of <1.4%, which were considerably lower than most published reports. Conclusion: We developed, validated and applied a rapid and small volume LC-MS/MS assay with high precision and accuracy for plasma paracetamol quantitation in 989 samples from 62 patients with severe malaria. The simple and high-throughput quality could facilitate assay automation for future clinical studies.

Nsanzabana C, Ariey F, Beck H-P, Ding XC, Kamau E, Krishna S, Legrand E, Lucchi N, Miotto O, Nag S et al. 2018. Molecular assays for antimalarial drug resistance surveillance: A target product profile. PLoS One, 13 (9), pp. e0204347. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Antimalarial drug resistance is a major constraint for malaria control and elimination efforts. Artemisinin-based combination therapy is now the mainstay for malaria treatment. However, delayed parasite clearance following treatment with artemisinin derivatives has now spread in the Greater Mekong Sub region and may emerge or spread to other malaria endemic regions. This spread is of great concern for malaria control programmes, as no alternatives to artemisinin-based combination therapies are expected to be available in the near future. There is a need to strengthen surveillance systems for early detection and response to the antimalarial drug resistance threat. Current surveillance is mainly done through therapeutic efficacy studies; however these studies are complex and both time- and resource-intensive. For multiple common antimalarials, parasite drug resistance has been correlated with specific genetic mutations, and the molecular markers associated with antimalarial drug resistance offer a simple and powerful tool to monitor the emergence and spread of resistant parasites. Different techniques to analyse molecular markers associated with antimalarial drug resistance are available, each with advantages and disadvantages. However, procedures are not adequately harmonized to facilitate comparisons between sites. Here we describe the target product profiles for tests to analyse molecular markers associated with antimalarial drug resistance, discuss how use of current techniques can be standardised, and identify the requirements for an ideal product that would allow malaria endemic countries to provide useful spatial and temporal information on the spread of resistance.

Hantrakun V, Somayaji R, Teparrukkul P, Boonsri C, Rudd K, Day NPJ, West TE, Limmathurotsakul D. 2018. Clinical epidemiology and outcomes of community acquired infection and sepsis among hospitalized patients in a resource limited setting in Northeast Thailand: A prospective observational study (Ubon-sepsis). PLoS One, 13 (9), pp. e0204509. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Infection and sepsis are leading causes of death worldwide but the epidemiology and outcomes are not well understood in resource-limited settings. We conducted a four-year prospective observational study from March 2013 to February 2017 to examine the clinical epidemiology and outcomes of adults admitted with community-acquired infection in a resource-limited tertiary-care hospital in Ubon Ratchathani province, Northeast Thailand. Hospitalized patients with infection and accompanying systemic manifestations of infection within 24 hours of admission were enrolled. Subjects were classified as having sepsis if they had a modified sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score ≥2 at enrollment. This study was registered with, number NCT02217592. A total of 4,989 patients were analyzed. Of the cohort, 2,659 (53%) were male and the median age was 57 years (range 18-101). Of these, 1,173 (24%) patients presented primarily to the study hospital, 3,524 (71%) were transferred from 25 district hospitals or 8 smaller hospitals in the province, and 292 (6%) were transferred from one of 30 hospitals in other provinces. Three thousand seven hundred and sixteen (74%) patients were classified as having sepsis. Patients with sepsis had an older age distribution and a greater prevalence of comorbidities compared to patients without sepsis. Twenty eight-day mortality was 21% (765/3,716) in sepsis and 4% (54/1,273) in non-sepsis patients (p<0.001). After adjusting for gender, age, and comorbidities, sepsis on admission (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 3.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.48-4.41, p<0.001), blood culture positive for pathogenic organisms (adjusted HR 2.21; 95% CI 1.89-2.58, p<0.001) and transfer from other hospitals (adjusted HR 2.18; 95% CI 1.69-2.81, p<0.001) were independently associated with mortality. In conclusion, mortality of community-acquired sepsis in Northeast Thailand is considerable and transferred patients with infection are at increased risk of death. To reduce mortality of sepsis in this and other resource-limited setting, facilitating rapid detection of sepsis in all levels of healthcare facilities, establishing guidelines for transfer of sepsis patients, and initiating sepsis care prior to and during transfer may be beneficial.

Blacksell SD, Kingston HWF, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Phanichkrivalkosil M, Hossain M, Hossain A, Ghose A, Leopold SJ, Dondorp AM, Day NPJ, Paris DH. 2018. Diagnostic Accuracy of the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect™ ELISA for the Detection of IgM Antibodies in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (3), pp. 95-95. | Show Abstract | Read more

Here we estimated the accuracy of the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect™ immunoglobulin M (IgM) ELISA to determine the optimal optical density (OD) cut-off values for the diagnosis of scrub typhus. Patients with undifferentiated febrile illness from Chittagong, Bangladesh, provided samples for reference testing using (i) qPCR using the Orientia spp. 47-kDa htra gene, (ii) IFA ≥1:3200 on admission, (iii) immunofluorescence assay (IFA) ≥1:3200 on admission or 4-fold rise to ≥3200, and (iv) combination of PCR and IFA positivity. For sero-epidemiological purposes (ELISA vs. IFA ≥1:3200 on admission or 4-fold rise to ≥3200), the OD cut-off for admission samples was ≥1.25, resulting in a sensitivity (Sn) of 91.5 (95% confidence interval (95% CI: 96.8⁻82.5) and a specificity (Sp) of 92.4 (95% CI: 95.0⁻89.0), while for convalescent samples the OD cut-off was ≥1.50 with Sn of 66.0 (95% CI: 78.5⁻51.7) and Sp of 96.0 (95% CI: 98.3⁻92.3). Comparisons against comparator reference tests (ELISA vs. all tests including PCR) indicated the most appropriate cut-off OD to be within the range of 0.75⁻1.25. For admission samples, the best Sn/Sp compromise was at 1.25 OD (Sn 91.5%, Sp 92.4%) and for convalescent samples at 0.75 OD (Sn 69.8%, Sp 89.5%). A relatively high (stringent) diagnostic cut-off value provides increased diagnostic accuracy with high sensitivity and specificity in the majority of cases, while lowering the cut-off runs the risk of false positivity. This study underlines the need for regional assessment of new diagnostic tests according to the level of endemicity of the disease given the high levels of residual or cross-reacting antibodies in the general population.

Chaumeau V, Fustec B, Nay Hsel S, Montazeau C, Naw Nyo S, Metaane S, Sawasdichai S, Kittiphanakun P, Phatharakokordbun P, Kwansomboon N et al. 2018. Entomological determinants of malaria transmission in Kayin state, Eastern Myanmar: A 24-month longitudinal study in four villages Wellcome Open Research, 3 pp. 109-109. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background : The Thailand-Myanmar borderland is an area endemic for malaria where transmission is low, seasonal and unstable. The epidemiology has been described but there is relatively few data on the entomological determinants of malaria transmission. Methods : As part of a pilot study on Targeted Malaria Elimination, entomological investigations were conducted during 24 months in four villages located in Kayin state, Myanmar. Anopheles mosquitoes were identified by morphology, and molecular assays were used in order to discriminate between closely related sibling species of malaria vectors. Plasmodium infection rate was determined using quantitative real-time PCR. Results : The biodiversity of Anopheles entomo-fauna was very high and multiple species were identified as malaria vectors. The intensity of human-vector contact (mean human-biting rate= 369 bites/person/month) compensates for the low infection rate in naturally infected populations of malaria vectors (mean sporozoite index= 0.4 and 1.7 /1,000 mosquitoes for P. falciparum and P. vivax respectively), yielding intermediary level of transmission intensity (mean entomological inoculation rate= 0.13 and 0.64 infective bites/person/month for P. falciparum and P. vivax, respectively). We estimated that 65% of the potential infective bites are not prevented by mosquito bed nets because of outdoor and early biters. Conclusion : This study provided a unique opportunity to describe the entomology of malaria in low transmission settings of Southeast Asia. Our data are important in the context of malaria elimination in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Turner HC, Toor J, Bettis AA, Hopkins AD, Kyaw SS, Onwujekwe O, Thwaites GE, Lubell Y, Fitzpatrick C. 2018. Valuing the unpaid contribution of community health volunteers to mass drug administration programs. Clin Infect Dis, | Show Abstract | Read more

Community health volunteers (CHVs) are being used within a growing number of healthcare interventions, and they have become a cornerstone for the delivery of mass drug administration within many neglected tropical disease control programs. However, a greater understanding of the methods used to value the unpaid time CHVs contribute to healthcare programs is needed. We outline the two main approaches used to value CHVs' unpaid time (the opportunity cost and the replacement cost approaches). We found that for mass drug administration programs the estimates of the economic costs relating to the CHVs' unpaid time can be significant, with the averages of the different studies varying between US$0.05-0.16 per treatment. We estimated that the time donated by CHVs' to the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control alone would be valued between US$60-90 million. There is a need for greater transparency and consistency in the methods used to value CHVs' unpaid time.

Smith NR, Trauer JM, Gambhir M, Richards JS, Maude RJ, Keith JM, Flegg JA. 2018. Agent-based models of malaria transmission: a systematic review. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 299. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Much of the extensive research regarding transmission of malaria is underpinned by mathematical modelling. Compartmental models, which focus on interactions and transitions between population strata, have been a mainstay of such modelling for more than a century. However, modellers are increasingly adopting agent-based approaches, which model hosts, vectors and/or their interactions on an individual level. One reason for the increasing popularity of such models is their potential to provide enhanced realism by allowing system-level behaviours to emerge as a consequence of accumulated individual-level interactions, as occurs in real populations. METHODS: A systematic review of 90 articles published between 1998 and May 2018 was performed, characterizing agent-based models (ABMs) relevant to malaria transmission. The review provides an overview of approaches used to date, determines the advantages of these approaches, and proposes ideas for progressing the field. RESULTS: The rationale for ABM use over other modelling approaches centres around three points: the need to accurately represent increased stochasticity in low-transmission settings; the benefits of high-resolution spatial simulations; and heterogeneities in drug and vaccine efficacies due to individual patient characteristics. The success of these approaches provides avenues for further exploration of agent-based techniques for modelling malaria transmission. Potential extensions include varying elimination strategies across spatial landscapes, extending the size of spatial models, incorporating human movement dynamics, and developing increasingly comprehensive parameter estimation and optimization techniques. CONCLUSION: Collectively, the literature covers an extensive array of topics, including the full spectrum of transmission and intervention regimes. Bringing these elements together under a common framework may enhance knowledge of, and guide policies towards, malaria elimination. However, because of the diversity of available models, endorsing a standardized approach to ABM implementation may not be possible. Instead it is recommended that model frameworks be contextually appropriate and sufficiently described. One key recommendation is to develop enhanced parameter estimation and optimization techniques. Extensions of current techniques will provide the robust results required to enhance current elimination efforts.

Shrestha P, Cooper BS, Coast J, Oppong R, Do Thi Thuy N, Phodha T, Celhay O, Guerin PJ, Wertheim H, Lubell Y. 2018. Enumerating the economic cost of antimicrobial resistance per antibiotic consumed to inform the evaluation of interventions affecting their use. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control, 7 (1), pp. 98. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a colossal threat to global health and incurs high economic costs to society. Economic evaluations of antimicrobials and interventions such as diagnostics and vaccines that affect their consumption rarely include the costs of AMR, resulting in sub-optimal policy recommendations. We estimate the economic cost of AMR per antibiotic consumed, stratified by drug class and national income level. Methods: The model is comprised of three components: correlation coefficients between human antibiotic consumption and subsequent resistance; the economic costs of AMR for five key pathogens; and consumption data for antibiotic classes driving resistance in these organisms. These were used to calculate the economic cost of AMR per antibiotic consumed for different drug classes, using data from Thailand and the United States (US) to represent low/middle and high-income countries. Results: The correlation coefficients between consumption of antibiotics that drive resistance in S. aureus, E. coli, K. pneumoniae, A. baumanii, and P. aeruginosa and resistance rates were 0.37, 0.27, 0.35, 0.45, and 0.52, respectively. The total economic cost of AMR due to resistance in these five pathogens was $0.5 billion and $2.9 billion in Thailand and the US, respectively. The cost of AMR associated with the consumption of one standard unit (SU) of antibiotics ranged from $0.1 for macrolides to $0.7 for quinolones, cephalosporins and broad-spectrum penicillins in the Thai context. In the US context, the cost of AMR per SU of antibiotic consumed ranged from $0.1 for carbapenems to $0.6 for quinolones, cephalosporins and broad spectrum penicillins. Conclusion: The economic costs of AMR per antibiotic consumed were considerable, often exceeding their purchase cost. Differences between Thailand and the US were apparent, corresponding with variation in the overall burden of AMR and relative prevalence of different pathogens. Notwithstanding their limitations, use of these estimates in economic evaluations can make better-informed policy recommendations regarding interventions that affect antimicrobial consumption and those aimed specifically at reducing the burden of AMR.

Chairat K, Jittamala P, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Pukrittayakamee S, Hanpithakpong W, Blessborn D, White NJ, Day NPJ, Tarning J. 2018. Enantiospecific pharmacokinetics and drug-drug interactions of primaquine and blood-stage antimalarial drugs. J Antimicrob Chemother, 73 (11), pp. 3102-3113. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objectives: Characterization of the pharmacokinetic properties of the enantiomers of primaquine and carboxyprimaquine following administration of racemic primaquine given alone and in combination with commonly used antimalarial drugs. Methods: Enantiomeric pharmacokinetics were evaluated in 49 healthy adult volunteers enrolled in three randomized cross-over studies in which a single dose of primaquine was given alone and then, after a suitable washout period, in combination with chloroquine, dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine or pyronaridine/artesunate. Non-linear mixed-effects modelling was used to characterize pharmacokinetics and assess the impact of drug-drug interactions. Results: The volume of distribution of racemic primaquine was decreased by a median (95% CI) of 22.0% (2.24%-39.9%), 24.0% (15.0%-31.5%) and 25.7% (20.3%-31.1%) when co-administered with chloroquine, dihydroartemisinin/piperaquine and pyronaridine/artesunate, respectively. The oral clearance of primaquine was decreased by a median of 19.1% (14.5%-22.8%) when co-administered with pyronaridine/artesunate. These interactions were enantiospecific with a relatively higher effect on (+)-S-primaquine than on (-)-R-primaquine. No drug-drug interaction effects were seen on the pharmacokinetics of either carboxyprimaquine enantiomer. Conclusions: Population pharmacokinetic models characterizing the enantiospecific properties of primaquine were developed successfully. Exposure to primaquine, particularly to the (+)-S-primaquine but not the carboxy metabolites, increased by up to 30% when co-administered with commonly used antimalarial drugs. A better mechanistic understanding of primaquine metabolism is required for assessment of its efficacy and haematological toxicity in humans.

Haniffa R, Beane A, Dondorp AM. 2018. Is the Tail Wagging the Dog in Sepsis? Crit Care Med, 46 (8), pp. e818. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Bulterys PL, Bulterys MA, Phommasone K, Luangraj M, Mayxay M, Kloprogge S, Miliya T, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN, Phetsouvanh R et al. 2018. Climatic drivers of melioidosis in Laos and Cambodia: a 16-year case series analysis. Lancet Planet Health, 2 (8), pp. e334-e343. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Burkholderia pseudomallei is the cause of melioidosis, a serious and difficult to treat infection that is endemic throughout the tropics. Melioidosis incidence is highly seasonal. We aimed to identify the climatic drivers of infection and to shed light on modes of transmission and potential preventive strategies. METHODS: We examined the records of patients diagnosed with melioidosis at the Microbiology Laboratory of Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, Laos, between October, 1999, and August, 2015, and all patients with culture-confirmed melioidosis presenting to the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia, between February, 2009, and December, 2013. We also examined local temperature, humidity, precipitation, visibility, and wind data for the corresponding time periods. We estimated the B pseudomallei incubation period by examining profile likelihoods for hypothetical exposure-to-presentation delays. FINDINGS: 870 patients were diagnosed with melioidosis in Laos and 173 patients were diagnosed with melioidosis in Cambodia during the study periods. Melioidosis cases were significantly associated with humidity (p<0·0001), low visibility (p<0·0001), and maximum wind speeds (p<0·0001) in Laos, and humidity (p=0·010), rainy days (p=0·015), and maximum wind speed (p=0·0070) in Cambodia. Compared with adults, children were at significantly higher odds of infection during highly humid months (odds ratio 2·79, 95% CI 1·83-4·26). Lung and disseminated infections were more common during windy months. The maximum likelihood estimate of the incubation period was 1 week (95% CI 0-2). INTERPRETATION: The results of this study demonstrate a significant seasonal burden of melioidosis among adults and children in Laos and Cambodia. Our findings highlight the risks of infection during highly humid and windy conditions, and suggest a need for increased awareness among at-risk individuals, such as children. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust.

Njim T, Dondorp A, Mukaka M, Ohuma EO. 2018. Identifying risk factors for the development of sepsis during adult severe malaria. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 278. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Severe falciparum malaria can be compounded by bacterial sepsis, necessitating antibiotics in addition to anti-malarial treatment. The objective of this analysis was to develop a prognostic model to identify patients admitted with severe malaria at higher risk of developing bacterial sepsis. METHODS: A retrospective data analysis using trial data from the South East Asian Quinine Artesunate Malaria Trial. Variables correlating with development of clinically defined sepsis were identified by univariable analysis, and subsequently included into a multivariable logistic regression model. Internal validation was performed by bootstrapping. Discrimination and goodness-of-fit were assessed using the area under the curve (AUC) and a calibration plot, respectively. RESULTS: Of the 1187 adults with severe malaria, 86 (7.3%) developed clinical sepsis during admission. Predictors for developing sepsis were: female sex, high blood urea nitrogen, high plasma anion gap, respiratory distress, shock on admission, high parasitaemia, coma and jaundice. The AUC of the model was 0.789, signifying modest differentiation for identifying patients developing sepsis. The model was well-calibrated (Hosmer-Lemeshow Chi squared = 1.02). The 25th percentile of the distribution of risk scores among those who developed sepsis could identify a high-risk group with a sensitivity and specificity of 70.0 and 69.4%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed model identifies patients with severe malaria at risk of developing clinical sepsis, potentially benefiting from antibiotic treatment in addition to anti-malarials. The model will need further evaluation with more strictly defined bacterial sepsis as outcome measure.

Lohy Das J, Rulisa S, de Vries PJ, Mens PF, Kaligirwa N, Agaba S, Tarning J, Karlsson MO, Dorlo TPC. 2018. Population Pharmacokinetics of Artemether, Dihydroartemisinin, and Lumefantrine in Rwandese Pregnant Women Treated for Uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum Malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 62 (10), | Show Abstract | Read more

The artemisinin-based combination therapy artemether-lumefantrine is commonly used in pregnant malaria patients. However, the effect of pregnancy-related changes on exposure is unclear, and pregnancy has been associated with decreased efficacy in previous studies. This study aimed to characterize the population pharmacokinetics of artemether, its active metabolite dihydroartemisinin, and lumefantrine in 22 Rwandese pregnant women in their second (n = 11) or third (n = 11) trimester with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. These patients were enrolled from Rwamagana district hospital and received the standard fixed oral dose combination of 80 mg of artemether and 480 mg of lumefantrine twice daily for 3 days. Venous plasma concentrations were quantified for all three analytes using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectroscopy, and data were analyzed using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. Lumefantrine pharmacokinetics was described by a flexible but highly variable absorption, with a mean absorption time of 4.04 h, followed by a biphasic disposition model. The median area under the concentration-time curve from 0 h to infinity (AUC0-∞) for lumefantrine was 641 h · mg/liter. Model-based simulations indicated that 11.7% of the study population did not attain the target day 7 plasma concentration (280 ng/ml), a threshold associated with increased risk of recrudescence. The pharmacokinetics of artemether was time dependent, and the autoinduction of its clearance was described using an enzyme turnover model. The turnover half-life was predicted to be 30.4 h. The typical oral clearance, which started at 467 liters/h, increased 1.43-fold at the end of treatment. Simulations suggested that lumefantrine pharmacokinetic target attainment appeared to be reassuring in Rwandese pregnant women, particularly compared to target attainment in Southeast Asia. Larger cohorts will be required to confirm this finding.

Fleshman A, Mullins K, Sahl J, Hepp C, Nieto N, Wiggins K, Hornstra H, Kelly D, Chan T-C, Phetsouvanh R et al. 2018. Comparative pan-genomic analyses of Orientia tsutsugamushi reveal an exceptional model of bacterial evolution driving genomic diversity. Microb Genom, 4 (9), | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi, formerly Rickettsia tsutsugamushi, is an obligate intracellular pathogen that causes scrub typhus, an underdiagnosed acute febrile disease with high morbidity. Scrub typhus is transmitted by the larval stage (chigger) of Leptotrombidium mites and is irregularly distributed across endemic regions of Asia, Australia and islands of the western Pacific Ocean. Previous work to understand population genetics in O. tsutsugamushi has been based on sub-genomic sampling methods and whole-genome characterization of two genomes. In this study, we compared 40 genomes from geographically dispersed areas and confirmed patterns of extensive homologous recombination likely driven by transposons, conjugative elements and repetitive sequences. High rates of lateral gene transfer (LGT) among O. tsutsugamushi genomes appear to have effectively eliminated a detectable clonal frame, but not our ability to infer evolutionary relationships and phylogeographical clustering. Pan-genomic comparisons using 31 082 high-quality bacterial genomes from 253 species suggests that genomic duplication in O. tsutsugamushi is almost unparalleled. Unlike other highly recombinant species where the uptake of exogenous DNA largely drives genomic diversity, the pan-genome of O. tsutsugamushi is driven by duplication and divergence. Extensive gene innovation by duplication is most commonly attributed to plants and animals and, in contrast with LGT, is thought to be only a minor evolutionary mechanism for bacteria. The near unprecedented evolutionary characteristics of O. tsutsugamushi, coupled with extensive intra-specific LGT, expand our present understanding of rapid bacterial evolutionary adaptive mechanisms.

Ali AM, Penny MA, Smith TA, Workman L, Sasi P, Adjei GO, Aweeka F, Kiechel J-R, Jullien V, Rijken MJ et al. 2018. Population Pharmacokinetics of the Antimalarial Amodiaquine: a Pooled Analysis To Optimize Dosing. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 62 (10), | Show Abstract | Read more

Amodiaquine plus artesunate is the recommended antimalarial treatment in many countries where malaria is endemic. However, pediatric doses are largely based on a linear extrapolation from adult doses. We pooled data from previously published studies on the pharmacokinetics of amodiaquine, to optimize the dose across all age groups. Adults and children with uncomplicated malaria received daily weight-based doses of amodiaquine or artesunate-amodiaquine over 3 days. Plasma concentration-time profiles for both the parent drug and the metabolite were characterized using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. Amodiaquine pharmacokinetics were adequately described by a two-compartment disposition model, with first-order elimination leading to the formation of desethylamodiaquine, which was best described by a three-compartment disposition model. Body size and age were the main covariates affecting amodiaquine clearance. After adjusting for the effect of weight, clearance rates for amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine reached 50% of adult maturation at 2.8 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 to 3.7 months) and 3.9 months (95% CI, 2.6 to 5.3 months) after birth, assuming that the baby was born at term. Bioavailability was 22.4% (95% CI, 15.6 to 31.9%) lower at the start of treatment than during convalescence, which suggests a malaria disease effect. Neither the drug formulation nor the hemoglobin concentration had an effect on any pharmacokinetic parameters. Results from simulations showed that current manufacturer dosing recommendations resulted in low desethylamodiaquine exposure in patients weighing 8 kg, 15 to 17 kg, 33 to 35 kg, and >62 kg compared to that in a typical 50-kg patient. We propose possible optimized dosing regimens to achieve similar drug exposures among all age groups, which require further validation.

Commons RJ, Simpson JA, Thriemer K, Humphreys GS, Abreha T, Alemu SG, Añez A, Anstey NM, Awab GR, Baird JK et al. 2018. The effect of chloroquine dose and primaquine on Plasmodium vivax recurrence: a WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network systematic review and individual patient pooled meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (9), pp. 1025-1034. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chloroquine remains the mainstay of treatment for Plasmodium vivax malaria despite increasing reports of treatment failure. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the effect of chloroquine dose and the addition of primaquine on the risk of recurrent vivax malaria across different settings. METHODS: A systematic review done in MEDLINE, Web of Science, Embase, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews identified P vivax clinical trials published between Jan 1, 2000, and March 22, 2017. Principal investigators were invited to share individual patient data, which were pooled using standardised methods. Cox regression analyses with random effects for study site were used to investigate the roles of chloroquine dose and primaquine use on rate of recurrence between day 7 and day 42 (primary outcome). The review protocol is registered in PROSPERO, number CRD42016053310. FINDINGS: Of 134 identified chloroquine studies, 37 studies (from 17 countries) and 5240 patients were included. 2990 patients were treated with chloroquine alone, of whom 1041 (34·8%) received a dose below the target 25 mg/kg. The risk of recurrence was 32·4% (95% CI 29·8-35·1) by day 42. After controlling for confounders, a 5 mg/kg higher chloroquine dose reduced the rate of recurrence overall (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 0·82, 95% CI 0·69-0·97; p=0·021) and in children younger than 5 years (0·59, 0·41-0·86; p=0·0058). Adding primaquine reduced the risk of recurrence to 4·9% (95% CI 3·1-7·7) by day 42, which is lower than with chloroquine alone (AHR 0·10, 0·05-0·17; p<0·0001). INTERPRETATION: Chloroquine is commonly under-dosed in the treatment of vivax malaria. Increasing the recommended dose to 30 mg/kg in children younger than 5 years could reduce substantially the risk of early recurrence when primaquine is not given. Radical cure with primaquine was highly effective in preventing early recurrence and may also improve blood schizontocidal efficacy against chloroquine-resistant P vivax. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ndila CM, Uyoga S, Macharia AW, Nyutu G, Peshu N, Ojal J, Shebe M, Awuondo KO, Mturi N, Tsofa B et al. 2018. Human candidate gene polymorphisms and risk of severe malaria in children in Kilifi, Kenya: a case-control association study. Lancet Haematol, 5 (8), pp. e333-e345. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Human genetic factors are important determinants of malaria risk. We investigated associations between multiple candidate polymorphisms-many related to the structure or function of red blood cells-and risk for severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria and its specific phenotypes, including cerebral malaria, severe malaria anaemia, and respiratory distress. METHODS: We did a case-control study in Kilifi County, Kenya. We recruited as cases children presenting with severe malaria to the high-dependency ward of Kilifi County Hospital. We included as controls infants born in the local community between Aug 1, 2006, and Sept 30, 2010, who were part of a genetics study. We tested for associations between a range of candidate malaria-protective genes and risk for severe malaria and its specific phenotypes. We used a permutation approach to account for multiple comparisons between polymorphisms and severe malaria. We judged p values less than 0·005 significant for the primary analysis of the association between candidate genes and severe malaria. FINDINGS: Between June 11, 1995, and June 12, 2008, 2244 children with severe malaria were recruited to the study, and 3949 infants were included as controls. Overall, 263 (12%) of 2244 children with severe malaria died in hospital, including 196 (16%) of 1233 with cerebral malaria. We investigated 121 polymorphisms in 70 candidate severe malaria-associated genes. We found significant associations between risk for severe malaria overall and polymorphisms in 15 genes or locations, of which most were related to red blood cells: ABO, ATP2B4, ARL14, CD40LG, FREM3, INPP4B, G6PD, HBA (both HBA1 and HBA2), HBB, IL10, LPHN2 (also known as ADGRL2), LOC727982, RPS6KL1, CAND1, and GNAS. Combined, these genetic associations accounted for 5·2% of the variance in risk for developing severe malaria among individuals in the general population. We confirmed established associations between severe malaria and sickle-cell trait (odds ratio [OR] 0·15, 95% CI 0·11-0·20; p=2·61 × 10-58), blood group O (0·74, 0·66-0·82; p=6·26 × 10-8), and -α3·7-thalassaemia (0·83, 0·76-0·90; p=2·06 × 10-6). We also found strong associations between overall risk of severe malaria and polymorphisms in both ATP2B4 (OR 0·76, 95% CI 0·63-0·92; p=0·001) and FREM3 (0·64, 0·53-0·79; p=3·18 × 10-14). The association with FREM3 could be accounted for by linkage disequilibrium with a complex structural mutation within the glycophorin gene region (comprising GYPA, GYPB, and GYPE) that encodes for the rare Dantu blood group antigen. Heterozygosity for Dantu was associated with risk for severe malaria (OR 0·57, 95% CI 0·49-0·68; p=3·22 × 10-11), as was homozygosity (0·26, 0·11-0·62; p=0·002). INTERPRETATION: Both ATP2B4 and the Dantu blood group antigen are associated with the structure and function of red blood cells. ATP2B4 codes for plasma membrane calcium-transporting ATPase 4 (the major calcium pump on red blood cells) and the glycophorins are ligands for parasites to invade red blood cells. Future work should aim at uncovering the mechanisms by which these polymorphisms can result in severe malaria protection and investigate the implications of these associations for wider health. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, UK Medical Research Council, European Union, and Foundation for the National Institutes of Health as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative.

Rajaraman S, Silamut K, Hossain MA, Ersoy I, Maude RJ, Jaeger S, Thoma GR, Antani SK. 2018. Understanding the learned behavior of customized convolutional neural networks toward malaria parasite detection in thin blood smear images. J Med Imaging (Bellingham), 5 (3), pp. 034501. | Show Abstract | Read more

Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have become the architecture of choice for visual recognition tasks. However, these models are perceived as black boxes since there is a lack of understanding of the learned behavior from the underlying task of interest. This lack of transparency is a serious drawback, particularly in applications involving medical screening and diagnosis since poorly understood model behavior could adversely impact subsequent clinical decision-making. Recently, researchers have begun working on this issue and several methods have been proposed to visualize and understand the behavior of these models. We highlight the advantages offered through visualizing and understanding the weights, saliencies, class activation maps, and region of interest localizations in customized CNNs applied to the challenge of classifying parasitized and uninfected cells to aid in malaria screening. We provide an explanation for the models' classification decisions. We characterize, evaluate, and statistically validate the performance of different customized CNNs keeping every training subject's data separate from the validation set.

Fellmeth G, Plugge EH, Nosten S, Oo MM, Fazel M, Charunwatthana P, Nosten F, Fitzpatrick R, McGready R. 2018. Living with severe perinatal depression: a qualitative study of the experiences of labour migrant and refugee women on the Thai-Myanmar border. BMC Psychiatry, 18 (1), pp. 229. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Perinatal depression is an important contributor to maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide. Migrant women, particularly those resettling within low- and middle-income settings, are at increased risk of perinatal depression due to multiple stressors experienced before, during and after migration. Evidence on migrant perinatal mental health to date has focused largely on women in high-income destination countries, leaving the voices of displaced women in low-income settings unheard. This study addresses the current evidence gap by exploring the experiences of migrant women living on the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with pregnant and post-partum labour migrant and refugee women on the Thai-Myanmar border who had been diagnosed with severe depression. An interview guide covering women's current and past life experiences, social support and the impact of depression on social and occupational functioning was used as a prompt. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes emerging from women's narratives. RESULTS: Eleven pregnant and post-partum women with severe perinatal depression took part. Participating women provided extensive insight into the many difficult aspects of their lives that they perceived as contributing to their depression status. Predominant themes emerging from women's narratives included difficult relationships with partners, challenging life situations, mechanisms for coping with depression and impressions of mental health care. CONCLUSIONS: Labour migrant and refugee women with severe perinatal depression face a wide range of chronic stressors at the individual, household and community levels that are likely to have both short- and long-term negative effects on their mental well-being and day-to-day functioning. Participating women responded positively to the mental health support they received, and findings provide important insights into how services might further support their needs.

Saralamba N, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Smithuis F, Nosten F, Archasuksan L, Pukrittayakamee S, White NJ, Day NPJ, Dondorp AM, Imwong M. 2018. Genetic polymorphisms in the circumsporozoite protein of Plasmodium malariae show a geographical bias. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 269. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium malariae is characterized by its long asymptomatic persistence in the human host. The epidemiology of P. malariae is incompletely understood and is hampered by the limited knowledge of genetic polymorphisms. Previous reports from Africa have shown heterogeneity within the P. malariae circumsporozoite protein (pmcsp) gene. However, comparative studies from Asian countries are lacking. Here, the genetic polymorphisms in pmcsp of Asian isolates have been characterized. METHODS: Blood samples from 89 symptomatic P. malariae-infected patients were collected, from Thailand (n = 43), Myanmar (n = 40), Lao PDR (n = 5), and Bangladesh (n = 1). pmcsp was amplified using semi-nested PCR before sequencing. The resulting 89 pmcsp sequences were analysed together with 58 previously published pmcsp sequences representing African countries using BioEdit, MEGA6, and DnaSP. RESULTS: Polymorphisms identified in pmcsp were grouped into 3 populations: Thailand, Myanmar, and Kenya. The nucleotide diversity and the ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions (dN/dS) in Thailand and Myanmar were higher compared with that in Kenya. Phylogenetic analysis showed clustering of pmcsp sequences according to the origin of isolates (Asia vs. Africa). High genetic differentiation (Fst = 0.404) was observed between P. malariae isolates from Asian and African countries. Sequence analysis of pmcsp showed the presence of tetrapeptide repeat units of NAAG, NDAG, and NAPG in the central repeat region of the gene. Plasmodium malariae isolates from Asian countries carried fewer copies of NAAG compared with that from African countries. The NAPG repeat was only observed in Asian isolates. Additional analysis of 2 T-cell epitopes, Th2R and Th3R, showed limited heterogeneity in P. malariae populations. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides valuable information on the genetic polymorphisms in pmcsp isolates from Asia and advances our understanding of P. malariae population in Asia and Africa. Polymorphisms in the central repeat region of pmcsp showed association with the geographical origin of P. malariae isolates and can be potentially used as a marker for genetic epidemiology of P. malariae population.

Rijal KR, Adhikari B, Ghimire P, Banjara MR, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Imwong M, Chotivanich K, Ceintury KP, Lal BK, Das Thakur G et al. 2018. Epidemiology of Plasmodium vivax Malaria Infection in Nepal. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 99 (3), pp. 680-687. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is endemic in the southern plain of Nepal which shares a porous border with India. More than 80% cases of malaria in Nepal are caused by Plasmodium vivax. The main objective of this study was to review the epidemiology of P. vivax malaria infections as recorded by the national malaria control program of Nepal between 1963 and 2016. National malaria data were retrieved from the National Malaria program in the Ministry of Health, Government of Nepal. The epidemiological trends and malariometric indicators were analyzed. Vivax malaria has predominated over falciparum malaria in the past 53 years, with P. vivax malaria comprising 70-95% of the annual malaria infections. In 1985, a malaria epidemic occurred with 42,321 cases (82% P. vivax and 17% Plasmodium falciparum). Nepal had experienced further outbreaks of malaria in 1991 and 2002. Plasmodium falciparum cases increased from 2005 to 2010 but since then declined. Analyzing the overall trend between 2002 (12,786 cases) until 2016 (1,009 cases) shows a case reduction by 92%. The proportion of imported malaria cases has increased from 18% of cases in 2001 to 50% in 2016. The current trends of malariometric indices indicate that Nepal is making a significant progress toward achieving the goal of malaria elimination by 2025. Most of the cases are caused by P. vivax with imported malaria comprising an increasing proportion of cases. The malaria control program in Nepal needs to counter importation of malaria at high risk areas with collaborative cross border malaria control activities.

Oonsivilai M, Yin M, Luangasanatip N, Lubell Y, Miliya T, Tan P, Loeuk L, Turner P, Cooper B. 2018. Using machine learning to guide targeted and locally-tailored empiric antibiotic prescribing in a children's hospital in Cambodia | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Early and appropriate empiric antibiotic treatment of patients suspected of having sepsis is associated with reduced mortality. The increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance risks eroding the benefits of such empiric therapy. This problem is particularly severe for children in developing country settings. We hypothesized that by applying machine learning approaches to readily collected patient data, it would be possible to obtain actionable and patient-specific predictions for antibiotic-susceptibility. If sufficient discriminatory power can be achieved, such predictions could lead to substantial improvements in the chances of choosing an appropriate antibiotic for empiric therapy, while minimizing the risk of increased selection for resistance due to use of antibiotics usually held in reserve. Methods and Findings: We analyzed blood culture data collected from a 100-bed children's hospital in North-West Cambodia between February 2013 and January 2016. Clinical, demographic and living condition information for each child was captured with 35 independent variables. Using these variables, we used a suite of machine learning algorithms to predict Gram stains and whether bacterial pathogens could be treated with standard empiric antibiotic therapies: i) ampicillin and gentamicin; ii) ceftriaxone; iii) at least one of the above. 243 cases of bloodstream infection were available for analysis. We used 195 (80%) to train the algorithms, and 48 (20%) for evaluation. We found that the random forest method had the best predictive performance overall as assessed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), though support vector machine with radial kernel had similar performance for predicting Gram stain and ceftriaxone susceptibility. Predictive performance of logistic regression, simple and boosted decision trees and k-nearest neighbors were poor in comparison. The random forest method gave an AUC of 0.91 (95%CI 0.81-1.00) for predicting susceptibility to ceftriaxone, 0.75 (0.60-0.90) for susceptibility to ampicillin and gentamicin, 0.76 (0.59-0.93) for susceptibility to neither, and 0.69 (0.53-0.85) for Gram stain result. The most important variables for predicting susceptibility were time from admission to blood culture, patient age, hospital versus community-acquired infection, and age-adjusted weight score. Conclusions: Applying machine learning algorithms to patient data that are readily available even in resource-limited hospital settings can provide highly informative predictions on susceptibilities of pathogens to guide appropriate empiric antibiotic therapy. Used as a decision support tool, such approaches have the potential to lead to better targeting of empiric therapy, improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance.

Tun KM, Jeeyapant A, Myint AH, Kyaw ZT, Dhorda M, Mukaka M, Cheah PY, Imwong M, Hlaing T, Kyaw TH et al. 2018. Effectiveness and safety of 3 and 5 day courses of artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in an area of emerging artemisinin resistance in Myanmar. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 258. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has emerged and spread in Southeast Asia. In areas where resistance is established longer courses of artemisinin-based combination therapy have improved cure rates. METHODS: The standard 3-day course of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) was compared with an extended 5-day regimen for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Kayin state in South-East Myanmar, an area of emerging artemisinin resistance. Late parasite clearance dynamics were described by microscopy and quantitative ultra-sensitive PCR. Patients were followed up for 42 days. RESULTS: Of 154 patients recruited (105 adults and 49 children < 14 years) 78 were randomized to 3 days and 76 to 5 days AL. Mutations in the P. falciparum kelch13 propeller gene (k13) were found in 46% (70/152) of infections, with F446I the most prevalent propeller mutation (29%; 20/70). Both regimens were well-tolerated. Parasite clearance profiles were biphasic with a slower submicroscopic phase which was similar in k13 wild-type and mutant infections. The cure rates were 100% (70/70) and 97% (68/70) in the 3- and 5-day arms respectively. Genotyping of the two recurrences was unsuccessful. CONCLUSION: Despite a high prevalence of k13 mutations, the current first-line treatment, AL, was still highly effective in this area of South-East Myanmar. The extended 5 day regimen was very well tolerated, and would be an option to prolong the useful therapeutic life of AL. Trial registration NCT02020330. Registered 24 December 2013,

Noé A, Zaman SI, Rahman M, Saha AK, Aktaruzzaman MM, Maude RJ. 2018. Mapping the stability of malaria hotspots in Bangladesh from 2013 to 2016. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 259. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year, most of them children. A "malaria-free world" is the World Health Organization's vision, but elimination from the southeast Asian Region is hampered by factors including anti-malarial resistance and systematic underreporting. Malaria is a significant public health problem in Bangladesh and while there have been recent gains in control, there is large spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the disease burden. This study aims to determine the pattern and stability of malaria hotspots in Bangladesh with the end goal of informing intervention planning for elimination. RESULTS: Malaria in Bangladesh exhibited highly seasonal, hypoendemic transmission in geographic hotspots, which remained conserved over time. The southeast areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts were identified as malaria hotspots for all 4 years examined. Similarly, areas in Sunamganj and Netrakona districts in the Northeast were hotspots for 2013-2016. Highly stable hotspots from 1 year predicted the following year's hotspot locations in the southeast of Bangladesh. Hotspots did not appear to act as sources of spread with no evidence of consistent patterns of contiguous spread or recession of hotspots as high or low transmission seasons progressed. CONCLUSIONS: Areas were identified with temporal and spatial clustering of high malaria incidence in Bangladesh. Further studies are required to understand the vector, sociodemographic and disease dynamics within these hotspots. Given the low caseloads occurring in the low transmission seasons, and the conserved nature of malaria hotspots, directing resources towards these areas may be an efficient way to achieve malaria elimination in Bangladesh.

Auburn S, Benavente ED, Miotto O, Pearson RD, Amato R, Grigg MJ, Barber BE, William T, Handayuni I, Marfurt J et al. 2018. Genomic analysis of a pre-elimination Malaysian Plasmodium vivax population reveals selective pressures and changing transmission dynamics. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 2585. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The incidence of Plasmodium vivax infection has declined markedly in Malaysia over the past decade despite evidence of high-grade chloroquine resistance. Here we investigate the genetic changes in a P. vivax population approaching elimination in 51 isolates from Sabah, Malaysia and compare these with data from 104 isolates from Thailand and 104 isolates from Indonesia. Sabah displays extensive population structure, mirroring that previously seen with the emergence of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum founder populations in Cambodia. Fifty-four percent of the Sabah isolates have identical genomes, consistent with a rapid clonal expansion. Across Sabah, there is a high prevalence of loci known to be associated with antimalarial drug resistance. Measures of differentiation between the three countries reveal several gene regions under putative selection in Sabah. Our findings highlight important factors pertinent to parasite resurgence and molecular cues that can be used to monitor low-endemic populations at the end stages of P. vivax elimination.

Han J-H, Cho J-S, Cheng Y, Muh F, Yoo WG, Russell B, Nosten F, Na S, Ha K-S, Park WS et al. 2018. Plasmodium vivax Merozoite Surface Protein 1 Paralog as a Mediator of Parasite Adherence to Reticulocytes. Infect Immun, 86 (9), | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax parasites preferentially invade reticulocytes in human beings. P. vivax merozoite surface protein 1 (PvMSP1) and PvMSP1 paralog (PvMSP1P) may have important functions in reticulocyte adherence during invasion. These proteins share similar structures, including the presence of two epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like and glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored domains at the C terminus. However, there have been no reports concerning the functional activity of PvMSP1P in reticulocyte adherence during P. vivax invasion. In this study, the ability of PvMSP1P-19 to bind to reticulocytes and normocytes was analyzed. The reticulocyte binding activity of PvMSP1P-19 was 4.0-fold higher than its normocyte binding activity. The binding of PvMSP1P-19 to reticulocytes and normocytes was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by antibodies from immunized rabbits and by antibodies from vivax parasite-infected patients. Consistently, antibodies against PvMSP1P inhibited parasite invasion during short-term in vitro cultivation. Similar to the case for PvDBPII binding activity, PvMSP1P-19 binding activity was reduced in chymotrypsin-treated reticulocytes. However, no significant difference between the binding of PvMSP1P-19 to Duffy-positive and Duffy-negative erythrocytes was found. The minimal binding motif of PvMSP1P-19 was characterized using synthetic peptides. The results showed that the residues at amino acid positions 1791 to 1808 may have an important function in mediating merozoite adherence to reticulocytes. The positively charged residues within the EGF-like domain were shown to constitute a key binding motif. This work presents strong evidence supporting the role of PvMSP1P in host target cell selection and invasion of Duffy-independent pathway in P. vivax Moreover, PvMSP1P-19-specific antibodies may confer protection against P. vivax reinvasion.

Greer RC, Intralawan D, Mukaka M, Wannapinij P, Day NPJ, Nedsuwan S, Lubell Y. 2018. Retrospective review of the management of acute infections and the indications for antibiotic prescription in primary care in northern Thailand. BMJ Open, 8 (7), pp. e022250. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Antibiotic use in low-income and middle-income countries continues to rise despite the knowledge that antibiotic overuse can lead to antimicrobial resistance. There is a paucity of detailed data on the use of antibiotics in primary care in low-resource settings. OBJECTIVE: To describe the presentation of acute infections and the indications for antibiotic prescription. DESIGN: A 2-year retrospective review of routinely collected data. SETTING: All 32 primary care units in one district in northern Thailand. PARTICIPANTS: Patients attending primary care with a history of fever, documented temperature, International Statistical Classification of Diseases 10 code for infection or prescribed a systemic antibiotic. Patients attending after the initiation of a study on C-reactive protein testing in four centres were excluded. OUTCOME MEASURES: The proportion of patients prescribed an antibiotic and the frequency of clinical presentations. RESULTS: 762 868 patients attended the health centres, of whom 103 196 met the inclusion criteria, 5966 were excluded resulting in 97 230 attendances consisting of 83 661 illness episodes.46.9% (39 242) of the patients were prescribed an antibiotic during their illness. Indications for antibiotic prescription in the multivariable logistic regression analysis included male sex (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.21 (95% CI 1.16 to 1.28), p<0.001), adults (aOR 1.77 (95% CI 1.57 to 2), p<0.001) and a temperature >37.5°C (aOR 1.24 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.48), p=0.020). 77.9% of the presentations were for respiratory-related problems, of which 98.6% were upper respiratory tract infections. The leading infection diagnoses were common cold (50%), acute pharyngitis (18.9%) and acute tonsillitis (5%) which were prescribed antibiotics in 10.5%, 88.7% and 87.1% of cases, respectively. Amoxicillin was the most commonly prescribed antibiotic. CONCLUSIONS: Nearly half of the patients received an antibiotic, the majority of whom had a respiratory infection. The results can be used to plan interventions to improve the rational use of antibiotics. Further studies in private facilities, pharmacies and dental clinics are required.

Henker H, Fox-Lewis S, Tep N, Vanna D, Pol S, Turner C. 2018. Healthcare workers' perceptions of an organizational quality assurance program implemented in a resource-limited setting: a qualitative study. Health Promot Perspect, 8 (3), pp. 179-186. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background:There is increasing awareness of the need to implement quality assurance programs in developing countries. Healthcare staff are the primary drivers of improving the quality of care,but little is known about how they perceive quality assurance programs in resource-limited settings. This study aims to evaluate healthcare workers' perceptions of the organizational quality assurance program (OQA) at Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), Cambodia. The OQA involves regular data collection and monitoring of quality indicators, to assess whether agreed quality standards are being met. Methods: This qualitative study consisted of four focus group discussions (FGDs) with 29 hospital staff (convenience sampling) from medical, nursing and non-medical departments. Staff members' understanding of quality assurance and perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the OQA were explored. Thematic content analysis was used to identify key themes. Results: Participants emphasized that quality indicators must include physical and psychological well-being. Strengths of the OQA included shared understanding amongst all groups of participants of its goals, committed leadership, that it was locally-relevant and that target indicators were developed from a "ground-up" approach. On-going challenges included that there was a gap in understanding of the OQA processes and overall running of the OQA across the organization between managers and staff. Conclusion: The introduction of the OQA at AHC has been well-received by staff members.Overall, the program is perceived to be valuable. Healthcare provision in resource-limited settings increasingly needs to demonstrate quality assurance. The model of OQA developed at AHC is one way to achieve this.

Epping L, van Tonder AJ, Gladstone RA, Bentley SD, Page AJ, Keane JA. 2018. SeroBA: rapid high-throughput serotyping of Streptococcus pneumoniae from whole genome sequence data Microbial Genomics, 4 (7), | Read more

Bernier MC, Li A, Winalski L, Zi Y, Li Y, Caillet C, Newton P, Wang ZL, Fernández FM. 2018. Triboelectric Nanogenerator (TENG) Mass Spectrometry of Falsified Antimalarials. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom, 32 (18), pp. 1585-1590. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

RATIONALE: An epidemic of low quality medicines continues to endanger patients worldwide. Detection of such "medicines" requires low cost, ambient ionization sources coupled to fieldable mass spectrometers for optimum sensitivity and specificity. With the use of triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs), the charge required to produce gas-phase ions for mass analysis can be obtained without the need for high voltage electrical circuitry, simplifying and lowering the cost of next-generation mass spectrometry instruments. METHODS: A sliding freestanding (SF) TENG was coupled to a toothpick electrospray setup for the purposes of testing if falsified medicines could be fingerprinted by this approach. Extracts from both genuine and falsified medicines were deposited on the toothpick and the SF TENG actuated to generate electrical charges, resulting in gas-phase ions for both active pharmaceutical ingredients and excipients. RESULTS: Our previous work had shown that direct analysis in real-time (DART) ambient mass spectrometry can identify the components of multiple classes of falsified antimalarial medicines. Experiments performed in this study show that a simple extraction into methanol along with the use of a SF TENG-powered toothpick electrospray can provide similar detection capabilities, but with much simpler and rugged instrumentation, and without the need for compressed gases or high voltage ion source power supplies. CONCLUSIONS: TENG toothpick MS allows for rapid analyte ion detection in a safe and low-cost manner, providing robust sampling and ionization capabilities.

Henriques G, Phommasone K, Tripura R, Peto TJ, Raut S, Snethlage C, Sambo I, Sanann N, Nguon C, Adhikari B et al. 2018. Comparison of glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase status by fluorescent spot test and rapid diagnostic test in Lao PDR and Cambodia. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 243. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is the most common enzymopathy worldwide. Primaquine is the only licensed drug that effectively removes Plasmodium vivax hypnozoites from the human host and prevents relapse. While well tolerated by most recipients, primaquine can cause haemolysis in G6PD deficient individuals and is, therefore, underused. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) could permit ascertainment of G6PD status outside of laboratory settings and hence safe treatment in remote areas. The performance of the fluorescent spot test (Trinity, Ireland; FST) and a G6PD RDT (Carestart, USA) against spectrophotometry were assessed. METHODS: Participants were enrolled during cross-sectional surveys in Laos and by purposive sampling in Cambodia. FST and RDT were performed during village surveys and 3 mL of venous blood was collected for subsequent G6PD measurement by spectrophotometry. RESULTS: A total of 757 participants were enrolled in Laos and 505 in Cambodia. FST and RDT performed best at 30% cut-off activity and performed significantly better in Laos than in Cambodia. When defining intermediate results as G6PD deficient, the FST had a sensitivity of 100% (95%CI 90-100) and specificity of 90% (95%CI 87.7-92.2) in Laos and sensitivity of 98% (94.1-99.6) and specificity of 71% (95%CI 66-76) in Cambodia (p < 0.001). The RDT had sensitivity and specificity of 100% (95%CI 90-100) and 99% (95%CI 97-99) in Laos and sensitivity and specificity of 91% (86-96) and 93% (90-95) in Cambodia (p < 0.001). The RDT performed significantly better (all p < 0.05) than the FST when intermediate FST results were defined as G6PD deficient. CONCLUSION: The interpretation of RDT results requires some training but is a good alternative to the FST. Trial registration; NCT01872702; 06/27/2013;

Thriemer K, Bobogare A, Ley B, Gudo CS, Alam MS, Anstey NM, Ashley E, Baird JK, Gryseels C, Jambert E et al. 2018. Quantifying primaquine effectiveness and improving adherence: a round table discussion of the APMEN Vivax Working Group. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 241. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The goal to eliminate malaria from the Asia-Pacific by 2030 will require the safe and widespread delivery of effective radical cure of malaria. In October 2017, the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network Vivax Working Group met to discuss the impediments to primaquine (PQ) radical cure, how these can be overcome and the methodological difficulties in assessing clinical effectiveness of radical cure. The salient discussions of this meeting which involved 110 representatives from 18 partner countries and 21 institutional partner organizations are reported. Context specific strategies to improve adherence are needed to increase understanding and awareness of PQ within affected communities; these must include education and health promotion programs. Lessons learned from other disease programs highlight that a package of approaches has the greatest potential to change patient and prescriber habits, however optimizing the components of this approach and quantifying their effectiveness is challenging. In a trial setting, the reactivity of participants results in patients altering their behaviour and creates inherent bias. Although bias can be reduced by integrating data collection into the routine health care and surveillance systems, this comes at a cost of decreasing the detection of clinical outcomes. Measuring adherence and the factors that relate to it, also requires an in-depth understanding of the context and the underlying sociocultural logic that supports it. Reaching the elimination goal will require innovative approaches to improve radical cure for vivax malaria, as well as the methods to evaluate its effectiveness.

Loan HT, Yen LM, Kestelyn E, Hao NV, Mai NTH, Thuy DB, Duong HTH, Dung NTP, Phu NH, Lieu PT et al. 2018. A Pilot Study to Assess Safety and Feasibility of Intrathecal Immunoglobulin for the Treatment of Adults with Tetanus. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 99 (2), pp. 323-326. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tetanus remains a significant burden in many low- and middle-income countries. The tetanus toxin acts within the central nervous system and intrathecal antitoxin administration may be beneficial, but there are safety concerns, especially in resource-limited settings. We performed a pilot study to assess the safety and feasibility of intrathecal human tetanus immunoglobulin in five adults with tetanus before the conduct of a large randomized controlled trial. Intrathecal injection via lumbar puncture was given to all patients within a median 140 (range 100-165) minutes of intensive care unit (ICU) admission. There were no serious adverse effects associated with the procedure although three patients had probably related minor adverse events which resolved spontaneously. Median ICU length of stay was 14 (range 5-17) days. Two patients required mechanical ventilation and one developed a deep vein thrombosis. Within 240 days of hospital discharge, no patients died and all patients returned to work.

Nair S, Li X, Arya GA, McDew-White M, Ferrari M, Nosten F, Anderson TJC. 2018. Fitness Costs and the Rapid Spread of kelch13-C580Y Substitutions Conferring Artemisinin Resistance. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 62 (9), | Show Abstract | Read more

Fitness costs are key determinants of whether drug resistance alleles establish and how fast they spread within populations. More than 125 different kelch13 alleles, each containing a different amino acid substitution, have arisen in Southeast Asian malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) populations under artemisinin selection over the past 15 years in a dramatic example of a soft selective event. However, just one of these alleles (C580Y) is now outcompeting other alleles in multiple different countries and is spreading toward fixation. Here we examine the fitness consequences of C580Y, relative to another less successful kelch13 mutation (R561H), to try to explain the distinctive dynamics of C580Y. We hypothesized that C580Y will show lower fitness costs than other kelch13 substitutions in the absence of artemisinin treatment. We used CRISPR/Cas9 methods to introduce single mutations (C580Y or R561H) or synonymous control edits into a wild-type parasite isolated on the Thailand-Myanmar border, conducted replicated head-to-head competition assays, and determined the outcome of competition using deep sequencing of kelch13 amplicons. Contrary to our predictions, these experiments reveal that C580Y carries higher fitness costs (s [selection coefficient] = 0.15 ± 0.008 [1 standard error {SE}]) than R561H (s = 0.084 ± 0.005). Furthermore, R561H outcompetes C580Y in direct competition (s = 0.065 ± 0.004). We conclude that fitness costs of C580Y in isolation are unlikely to explain the rapid spread of this substitution.

Peto TJ, Tripura R, Sanann N, Adhikari B, Callery J, Droogleever M, Heng C, Cheah PY, Davoeung C, Nguon C et al. 2018. The feasibility and acceptability of mass drug administration for malaria in Cambodia: a mixed-methods study. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 112 (6), pp. 264-271. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Mass drug administrations (MDAs) are part of the World Health Organization's Plasmodium falciparum elimination strategy for the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). In Cambodia, a 2015-2017 clinical trial evaluated the effectiveness of MDA. This article explores factors that influence the feasibility and acceptability of MDA, including seasonal timing, financial incentives and the delivery model. Methods: Quantitative data were collected through structured questionnaires from the heads of 163 households. Qualitative data were collected through 25 semi-structured interviews and 5 focus group discussions with villagers and local health staff. Calendars of village activities were created and meteorological and malaria treatment records were collected. Results: MDA delivered house-to-house or at a central point, with or without compensation, were equally acceptable and did not affect coverage. People who knew about the rationale for the MDA, asymptomatic infections and transmission were more likely to participate. In western Cambodia, MDA delivered house-to-house by volunteers at the end of the dry season may be most practicable but requires the subsequent treatment of in-migrants to prevent reintroduction of infections. Conclusions: For MDA targeted at individual villages or village clusters it is important to understand local preferences for community mobilisation, delivery and timing, as several models of MDA are feasible.

Srichan P, Niyom SL, Pacheun O, Iamsirithawon S, Chatchen S, Jones C, White LJ, Pan-Ngum W. 2018. Addressing challenges faced by insecticide spraying for the control of dengue fever in Bangkok, Thailand: a qualitative approach. Int Health, 10 (5), pp. 349-355. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: This study focused on evaluating the fumigation scheme and identifying problems encountered during the operation in the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration area. Methods: Ten district health officers working in different fumigation teams of the dengue outbreak control programme around Bangkok had participated in an in-depth interview. Five predetermined themes, including (i) dengue surveillance and control strategy, (ii) quality and availability of equipment, (iii) delays, (iv) human resources, and (v) area coverage, and other emerging themes were addressed during the interviews. Results: Although the staff seemed to know the operation protocol of the dengue surveillance and control programmes well, they encountered some difficulties in accessing households for proper spraying, and a lack of human and material resources, especially during an outbreak. Other emerging themes concerned inefficient communications among the sectors from hospital to district offices, leading to inaccurate or missing patient addresses for spraying, and the lack of community networks and public cooperation for the dengue control programmes. Conclusions: The findings suggest that coordination among the relevant health sectors to acquire accurate and timely information about dengue cases is essential. Involving community networks should help to improve public engagement with and participation in the surveillance and outbreak control programmes.

Landier J, Haohankhunnatham W, Das S, Konghahong K, Christensen P, Raksuansak J, Phattharakokoedbun P, Kajeechiwa L, Thwin MM, Jang IK et al. 2018. Operational Performance of a Plasmodium falciparum Ultrasensitive Rapid Diagnostic Test for Detection of Asymptomatic Infections in Eastern Myanmar. J Clin Microbiol, 56 (8), | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

In the Greater Mekong Subregion in Southeast Asia, malaria elimination strategies need to target all Plasmodium falciparum parasites, including those carried asymptomatically. More than 70% of asymptomatic carriers are not detected by current rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) or microscopy. An HRP2-based ultrasensitive RDT (uRDT) developed to improve the detection of low-density infections was evaluated during prevalence surveys within a malaria elimination program in a low-transmission area of eastern Myanmar. Surveys were conducted to identify high-prevalence villages. Two-milliliter venous blood samples were collected from asymptomatic adult volunteers and transported to the laboratory. Plasmodium parasites were detected by RDT, uRDT, microscopy, ultrasensitive qPCR (uPCR), and multiplex enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The sensitivity, specificity, and predictive positive and negative values of RDT and uRDT were calculated compared to uPCR and ELISA. Parasite and antigen concentrations detected by each test were defined using uPCR and ELISA, respectively. A total of 1,509 samples, including 208 P. falciparum-positive samples were analyzed with all tests. The sensitivity of the uRDT was twofold higher than that of RDT, 51.4% versus 25.2%, with minor specificity loss, 99.5% versus 99.9%, against the combined reference (uPCR plus ELISA). The geometric mean parasitemia detected by uRDT in P. falciparum monospecific infections was 3,019 parasites per ml (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1,790 to 5,094; n = 79) compared to 11,352 parasites per ml (95% CI, 5,643 to 22,837; n = 38) by RDT. The sensitivities of uRDT and RDT dropped to 34.6% and 15.1%, respectively, for the matched tests performed in the field. The uRDT performed consistently better than RDT and microscopy at low parasitemias. It shows promising characteristics for the identification of high-prevalence communities and warrants further evaluation in mass screening and treatment interventions.

Thielemans L, Trip-Hoving M, Landier J, Turner C, Prins TJ, Wouda EMN, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Po C, Beau C, Mu M et al. 2018. Indirect neonatal hyperbilirubinemia in hospitalized neonates on the Thai-Myanmar border: a review of neonatal medical records from 2009 to 2014. BMC Pediatr, 18 (1), pp. 190. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Indirect neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (INH) is a common neonatal disorder worldwide which can remain benign if prompt management is available. However there is a higher morbidity and mortality risk in settings with limited access to diagnosis and care. The manuscript describes the characteristics of neonates with INH, the burden of severe INH and identifies factors associated with severity in a resource-constrained setting. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective evaluation of anonymized records of neonates hospitalized on the Thai-Myanmar border. INH was defined according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines as 'moderate' if at least one serum bilirubin (SBR) value exceeded the phototherapy threshold and as 'severe' if above the exchange transfusion threshold. RESULTS: Out of 2980 records reviewed, 1580 (53%) had INH within the first 14 days of life. INH was moderate in 87% (1368/1580) and severe in 13% (212/1580). From 2009 to 2011, the proportion of severe INH decreased from 37 to 15% and the mortality dropped from 10% (8/82) to 2% (7/449) coinciding with the implementation of standardized guidelines and light-emitting diode (LED) phototherapy. Severe INH was associated with: prematurity (< 32 weeks, Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 3.3; 95% CI 1.6-6.6 and 32 to 37 weeks, AOR 2.2; 95% CI 1.6-3.1), Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) (AOR 2.3; 95% CI 1.6-3.3), potential ABO incompatibility (AOR 1.5; 95% CI 1.0-2.2) and late presentation (AOR 1.8; 95% CI 1.3-2.6). The risk of developing severe INH and INH-related mortality significantly increased with each additional risk factor. CONCLUSION: INH is an important cause of neonatal hospitalization on the Thai-Myanmar border. Risk factors for severity were similar to previous reports from Asia. Implementing standardized guidelines and appropriate treatment was successful in reducing mortality and severity. Accessing to basic neonatal care including SBR testing, LED phototherapy and G6PD screening can contribute to improve neonatal outcomes.

Ngor P, White L, Chalk J, Lubell Y, Favede C, Cheah P-Y, Nguon C, Ly P, Maude R, Sovannaroth S et al. 2018. Smartphones for community health in rural Cambodia: A feasibility study Wellcome Open Research, 3 pp. 69-69. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Village Malaria Workers (VMWs) are lay people trained to provide a valuable role in frontline testing and treatment of malaria in rural villages in Cambodia. Emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria highlights the essential role of such VMWs in surveillance and early treatment of malaria. Smartphone technology offers huge potential to support VMWs in isolated and resource-poor settings.  Methods: We investigated the feasibility of issuing established VMWs with a smartphone, bespoke Android application and solar charger to support their role. 27 VMWs in Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces participated.  Results: 26/27 of the smartphones deployed were working well at study completion twelve months later. Interviews with VMWs using quantitative and qualitative methods revealed pride, ease of use and reports of faster communication with the smartphone. VMWs also expressed a strong wish to help people presenting with non-malarial fever, for which further potential supportive smartphone applications are increasingly available.  Conclusions: As a result of this pilot study, two smartphone based reporting systems for malaria have been developed at the Cambodian National Malaria Center, and the programme is now being extended nationwide. The full code for the smartphone application is made available to other researchers and healthcare providers with this article. Smartphones represent a feasible platform for developing the VMW role to include other health conditions, thus maintaining the relevance of these important community health workers.

Nazeri S, Zakeri S, Mehrizi AA, Djadid ND, Snounou G, Andolina C, Nosten F. 2018. Vaccine adjuvants CpG (oligodeoxynucleotides ODNs), MPL (3-O-deacylated monophosphoryl lipid A) and naloxone-enhanced Th1 immune response to the Plasmodium vivax recombinant thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP) in mice. Med Microbiol Immunol, 207 (5-6), pp. 271-286. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite considerable efforts toward vaccine development over decades, there is no available effective vaccine against Plasmodium vivax. Thrombospondin-related adhesive protein of P. vivax (PvTRAP) is essential for sporozoite motility and invasions into mosquito's salivary gland and vertebrate's hepatocyte; hence, it is a promising target for pre-erythrocytic vaccine. In the current investigation, the role of antibodies and cellular immune responses induced by purified recombinant PvTRAP (rPvTRAP) delivered in three adjuvants, naloxone (NLX), CpG oligodeoxynucleotides ODN1826 (CpG-ODN), and 3-O-deacylated monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), alone and in combination was evaluated in immunized C57BL/6 mice. The highest level and the avidity of anti-PvTRAP IgG (mean OD490nm 2.55), IgG2b (mean OD490nm 1.68), and IgG2c (mean OD490nm 1.466) were identified in the group received rPvTRA/NLX-MPL-CpG. This group also presented the highest IgG2c/IgG1 (2.58) and IgG2b/IgG1 (2.95) ratio when compared to all other groups, and among the adjuvant groups, the lowest IgG2c/IgG1 (1.86) and IgG2b/IgG1 (2.25) ratio was observed in mice receiving rPvTRAP/NLX. Mice receiving rPvTRAP/adjuvants induced significantly the higher levels of interferon gamma (IFN-γ), low level of detectable IL-10, and no detectable IL-4 production. The present result revealed that PvTRAP is immunogenic and its administration with CPG, MPL, and NLX in C57BL/6 mice induced Th1 immune response. Besides, the rPvTRAP delivery in the mixed formulation of those adjuvants had more potential to increase the level, avidity, and persistence of anti-TRAP antibodies. However, it warrants further assessment to test the blocking activity of the produced antibodies in immunized mice with different adjuvant formulations.

Chu CS, Phyo AP, Lwin KM, Win HH, San T, Aung AA, Raksapraidee R, Carrara VI, Bancone G, Watson J et al. 2018. Comparison of the Cumulative Efficacy and Safety of Chloroquine, Artesunate, and Chloroquine-Primaquine in Plasmodium vivax Malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 67 (10), pp. 1543-1549. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Chloroquine has been recommended for Plasmodium vivax infections for >60 years, but resistance is increasing. To guide future therapies, the cumulative benefits of using slowly eliminated (chloroquine) vs rapidly eliminated (artesunate) antimalarials, and the risks and benefits of adding radical cure (primaquine) were assessed in a 3-way randomized comparison conducted on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Methods: Patients with uncomplicated P. vivax malaria were given artesunate (2 mg/kg/day for 5 days), chloroquine (25 mg base/kg over 3 days), or chloroquine-primaquine (0.5 mg/kg/day for 14 days) and were followed for 1 year. Recurrence rates and their effects on anemia were compared. Results: Between May 2010 and October 2012, 644 patients were enrolled. Artesunate cleared parasitemia significantly faster than chloroquine. Day 28 recurrence rates were 50% with artesunate (112/224), 8% with chloroquine (18/222; P < .001), and 0.5% with chloroquine-primaquine (1/198; P < .001). Median times to first recurrence were 28 days (interquartile range [IQR], 21-42) with artesunate, 49 days (IQR, 35-74) with chloroquine, and 195 days (IQR, 82-281) with chloroquine-primaquine. Recurrence by day 28, was associated with a mean absolute reduction in hematocrit of 1% (95% confidence interval [CI], .3%-2.0%; P = .009). Primaquine radical cure reduced the total recurrences by 92.4%. One-year recurrence rates were 4.51 (95% CI, 4.19-4.85) per person-year with artesunate, 3.45 (95% CI, 3.18-3.75) with chloroquine (P = .002), and 0.26 (95% CI, .19-.36) with chloroquine-primaquine (P < .001). Conclusions: Vivax malaria relapses are predominantly delayed by chloroquine but prevented by primaquine. Clinical Trials Registration: NCT01074905.

Roth A, Maher SP, Conway AJ, Ubalee R, Chaumeau V, Andolina C, Kaba SA, Vantaux A, Bakowski MA, Thomson-Luque R et al. 2018. Author Correction: A comprehensive model for assessment of liver stage therapies targeting Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 2317. | Show Abstract | Read more

The original version of this Article contained an error in the spelling of Richard Thomson-Luque, which was incorrectly given as Richard Thomson Luque. This error has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.

Chan XHS, Win YN, Mawer LJ, Tan JY, Brugada J, White NJ. 2018. Risk of sudden unexplained death after use of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for malaria: a systematic review and Bayesian meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (8), pp. 913-923. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is an effective and well tolerated artemisinin-based combination therapy that has been assessed extensively for the prevention and treatment of malaria. Piperaquine, similar to several structurally related antimalarials currently used, can prolong cardiac ventricular repolarisation duration and the electrocardiographic QT interval, leading to concerns about its proarrhythmic potential. We aimed to assess the risk of potentially lethal iatrogenic ventricular arrhythmias in individuals receiving dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. METHODS: We did a systematic review and Bayesian meta-analysis. We searched clinical bibliographic databases (last on May 24, 2017) for studies of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in human beings. Further unpublished studies were identified with the WHO Evidence Review Group on the Cardiotoxicity of Antimalarials. We searched for articles containing "dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine" as title, abstract, or subject heading keywords, with synonyms and variant spellings as additional search terms. We excluded animal studies, but did not apply limits on language or publication date. Eligible studies were prospective, randomised, controlled trials or cohort studies in which individuals received at least one 3-day treatment course of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for mass drug administration, preventive therapy, or case management of uncomplicated malaria, with follow-up over at least 3 days. At least two independent reviewers screened titles, abstracts, and full texts, agreed study eligibility, and extracted information about study and participant characteristics, adverse event surveillance methodology, dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine exposures, loss-to-follow up, and any deaths after dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment into a standardised database. The risk of sudden unexplained death after dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine with 95% credible intervals (CI) generated by Bayesian meta-analysis was compared with the baseline rate of sudden cardiac death. FINDINGS: Our search identified 94 eligible primary studies including data for 197 867 individuals who had received dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine: 154 505 in mass drug administration programmes; 15 188 in 14 studies of repeated courses in preventive therapies and case management of uncomplicated malaria; and 28 174 as single-course treatments of uncomplicated malaria in 76 case-management studies. There was one potentially drug-related sudden unexplained death: a healthy woman aged 16 in Mozambique who developed heart palpitations several hours after the second dose of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine and collapsed and died on the way to hospital (no autopsy or ECG was done). The median pooled risk estimate of sudden unexplained death after dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was 1 in 757 950 (95% CI 1 in 2 854 490 to 1 in 209 114). This risk estimate was not higher than the baseline rate of sudden cardiac death (0·7-11·9 per 100 000 person-years or 1 in 1 714 280 to 1 in 100 835 over a 30-day risk period). The risk of bias was low in most studies and unclear in a few. INTERPRETATION: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was associated with a low risk of sudden unexplained death that was not higher than the baseline rate of sudden cardiac death. Concerns about repolarisation-related cardiotoxicity need not limit its current use for the prevention and treatment of malaria. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, UK Medical Research Council, WHO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and University of Oxford.

Batty EM, Chaemchuen S, Blacksell S, Richards AL, Paris D, Bowden R, Chan C, Lachumanan R, Day N, Donnelly P et al. 2018. Long-read whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis of six strains of the human pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (6), pp. e0006566. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Orientia tsutsugamushi is a clinically important but neglected obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen of the Rickettsiaceae family that causes the potentially life-threatening human disease scrub typhus. In contrast to the genome reduction seen in many obligate intracellular bacteria, early genetic studies of Orientia have revealed one of the most repetitive bacterial genomes sequenced to date. The dramatic expansion of mobile elements has hampered efforts to generate complete genome sequences using short read sequencing methodologies, and consequently there have been few studies of the comparative genomics of this neglected species. RESULTS: We report new high-quality genomes of O. tsutsugamushi, generated using PacBio single molecule long read sequencing, for six strains: Karp, Kato, Gilliam, TA686, UT76 and UT176. In comparative genomics analyses of these strains together with existing reference genomes from Ikeda and Boryong strains, we identify a relatively small core genome of 657 genes, grouped into core gene islands and separated by repeat regions, and use the core genes to infer the first whole-genome phylogeny of Orientia. CONCLUSIONS: Complete assemblies of multiple Orientia genomes verify initial suggestions that these are remarkable organisms. They have larger genomes compared with most other Rickettsiaceae, with widespread amplification of repeat elements and massive chromosomal rearrangements between strains. At the gene level, Orientia has a relatively small set of universally conserved genes, similar to other obligate intracellular bacteria, and the relative expansion in genome size can be accounted for by gene duplication and repeat amplification. Our study demonstrates the utility of long read sequencing to investigate complex bacterial genomes and characterise genomic variation.

Zimmermann RE, Ribolzi O, Pierret A, Rattanavong S, Robinson MT, Newton PN, Davong V, Auda Y, Zopfi J, Dance DAB. 2018. Rivers as carriers and potential sentinels for Burkholderia pseudomallei in Laos. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 8674. | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei, causative agent of the often fatal disease melioidosis, dwells in tropical soils and has been found in freshwater bodies. To investigate whether rivers are potential habitats or carriers for B. pseudomallei and to assess its geographical distribution in Laos, we studied 23 rivers including the Mekong, applying culture-based detection methods and PCR to water filters and streambed sediments. B. pseudomallei was present in 9% of the rivers in the dry season and in 57% in the rainy season. We found the pathogen exclusively in Southern and Central Laos, and mainly in turbid river water, while sediments were positive in 35% of the B. pseudomallei-positive sites. Our results provide evidence for a heterogeneous temporal and spatial distribution of B. pseudomallei in rivers in Laos with a clear north-south contrast. The seasonal dynamics and predominant occurrence of B. pseudomallei in particle-rich water suggest that this pathogen is washed out with eroded soil during periods of heavy rainfall and transported by rivers, while river sediments do not seem to be permanent habitats for B. pseudomallei. Rivers may thus be useful to assess the distribution and aquatic dispersal of B. pseudomallei and other environmental pathogens in their catchment area and beyond.

Barber BE, Grigg MJ, Piera KA, William T, Cooper DJ, Plewes K, Dondorp AM, Yeo TW, Anstey NM. 2018. Intravascular haemolysis in severe Plasmodium knowlesi malaria: association with endothelial activation, microvascular dysfunction, and acute kidney injury. Emerg Microbes Infect, 7 (1), pp. 106. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium knowlesi occurs throughout Southeast Asia, and is the most common cause of human malaria in Malaysia. Severe disease in humans is characterised by high parasite biomass, reduced red blood cell deformability, endothelial activation and microvascular dysfunction. However, the roles of intravascular haemolysis and nitric oxide (NO)-dependent endothelial dysfunction, important features of severe falciparum malaria, have not been evaluated, nor their role in acute kidney injury (AKI). In hospitalised Malaysian adults with severe (n = 48) and non-severe (n = 154) knowlesi malaria, and in healthy controls (n = 50), we measured cell-free haemoglobin (CFHb) and assessed associations with the endothelial Weibel-Palade body (WPB) constituents, angiopoietin-2 and osteoprotegerin, endothelial and microvascular function, and other markers of disease severity. CFHb was increased in knowlesi malaria in proportion to disease severity, and to a greater extent than previously reported in severe falciparum malaria patients from the same study cohort. In knowlesi malaria, CFHb was associated with parasitaemia, and independently associated with angiopoietin-2 and osteoprotegerin. As with angiopoietin-2, osteoprotegerin was increased in proportion to disease severity, and independently associated with severity markers including creatinine, lactate, interleukin-6, endothelial cell adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and E-selectin, and impaired microvascular reactivity. Osteoprotegerin was also independently associated with NO-dependent endothelial dysfunction. AKI was found in 88% of those with severe knowlesi malaria. Angiopoietin-2 and osteoprotegerin were both independent risk factors for acute kidney injury. Our findings suggest that haemolysis-mediated endothelial activation and release of WPB constituents is likely a key contributor to end-organ dysfunction, including AKI, in severe knowlesi malaria.

Smit PW, Stoesser N, Pol S, van Kleef E, Oonsivilai M, Tan P, Neou L, Turner C, Turner P, Cooper BS. 2018. Transmission Dynamics of Hyper-Endemic Multi-Drug Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae in a Southeast Asian Neonatal Unit: A Longitudinal Study With Whole Genome Sequencing. Front Microbiol, 9 (JUN), pp. 1197. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background:Klebsiella pneumoniae is an important and increasing cause of life-threatening disease in hospitalized neonates. Third generation cephalosporin resistance (3GC-R) is frequently a marker of multi-drug resistance, and can complicate management of infections. 3GC-R K. pneumoniae is hyper-endemic in many developing country settings, but its epidemiology is poorly understood and prospective studies of endemic transmission are lacking. We aimed to determine the transmission dynamics of 3GC-R K. pneumoniae in a newly opened neonatal unit (NU) in Cambodia and to address the following questions: what is the diversity of 3GC-R K. pneumoniae both within- and between-host; to what extent is high carriage prevalence driven by ward-based transmission; and to what extent can environmental contamination explain patterns of patient acquisition. Methods: We performed a prospective longitudinal study between September and November 2013. Rectal swabs from consented patients were collected upon NU admission and every 3 days thereafter. Morphologically different colonies from swabs growing cefpodoxime-resistant K. pneumoniae were selected for whole-genome sequencing (WGS). Results: One hundred and fifty-eight samples from 37 patients and 7 environmental sites were collected. 32/37 (86%) patients screened positive for 3GC-R K. pneumoniae and 93 colonies from 119 swabs were successfully sequenced. Isolates were resistant to a median of six (range 3-9) antimicrobials. WGS revealed high diversity; pairwise distances between isolates from the same patient were either 0-1 SNV or >1,000 SNVs; 19/32 colonized patients harbored K. pneumoniae colonies differing by >1000 SNVs. Diverse lineages accounted for 18 probable importations to the NU and nine probable transmission clusters involving 19/37 (51%) of screened patients. Median cluster size was five patients (range 3-9). Seven out of 46 environmental swabs (15%) were positive for 3GC-R K. pneumoniae. Environmental sources were plausible sources for acquisitions in 2/9 transmission clusters, though in both cases other patients were also plausible sources. Conclusion: The epidemiology of 3GC-R K. pneumoniae was characterized by multiple introductions, high within- and between host diversity and a dense network of cross-infection, with half of screened neonates part of a transmission cluster. We found no evidence to suggest that environmental contamination was playing a dominant role in transmission.

Rolim DB, Lima RXR, Ribeiro AKC, Colares RM, Lima LDQ, Rodríguez-Morales AJ, Montúfar FE, Dance DAB. 2018. Melioidosis in South America. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (2), pp. 60-60. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is an emerging disease in the Americas. This paper reviews confirmed cases, the presence of Burkholderia pseudomallei and the organization of national surveillance policies for melioidosis in South America. Confirmed cases in humans have been reported from Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. The bacterium has been isolated from the environment in Brazil and Peru. The state of Ceará, northeastern region of Brazil, is the only place where specific public strategies and policies for melioidosis have been developed. We also discuss the urgent need for health authorities in South America to pay greater attention to this disease, which has the potential to have a high impact on public health, and the importance of developing coordinated strategies amongst countries in this region.

Ya-Umphan P, Cerqueira D, Cottrell G, Parker DM, Fowkes FJI, Nosten F, Corbel V. 2018. Anopheles Salivary Biomarker as a Proxy for Estimating Plasmodium falciparum Malaria Exposure on the Thailand-Myanmar Border. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 99 (2), pp. 350-356. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Timely identification and treatment of malaria transmission "hot spots" is essential to achieve malaria elimination. Here we investigate the relevance of using an Anopheles salivary biomarker to estimate Plasmodium falciparum malaria exposure risk along the Thailand-Myanmar border to guide malaria control. Between May 2013 and December 2014, > 9,000 blood samples collected in a cluster randomized control trial were screened with serological assays to measure the antibody responses to Anopheles salivary antigen (gSG6-P1) and P. falciparum malaria antigens (circumsporozoite protein, merozoite surface protein 119 [MSP-119]). Plasmodium falciparum infections were monitored through passive and active case detection. Seroprevalence to gSG6-P1, MSP-119, and CSP were 71.8% (95% Confidence interval [CI]: 70.9, 72.7), 68.6% (95% CI: 67.7, 69.5), and 8.6% (95% CI: 8.0, 9.2), respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that individuals with the highest Ab response to gSG6-P1 had six times the odds of being positive to CSP antigens (P < 0.001) and two times the odds of P. falciparum infection compared with low gSG6-P1 responders (P = 0.004). Spatial scan statistics revealed the presence of clusters of gSG6-P1 that partially overlapped P. falciparum infections. The gSG6-P1 salivary biomarker represents a good proxy for estimating P. falciparum malaria risk and could serve to implement hot spot-targeted vector control interventions to achieve malaria elimination.

Price RN, White NJ. 2018. Drugs that reduce transmission of falciparum malaria. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (6), pp. 585-586. | Read more

Kloprogge F, Workman L, Borrmann S, Tékété M, Lefèvre G, Hamed K, Piola P, Ursing J, Kofoed PE, Mårtensson A et al. 2018. Artemether-lumefantrine dosing for malaria treatment in young children and pregnant women: A pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic meta-analysis. PLoS Med, 15 (6), pp. e1002579. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The fixed dose combination of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) is the most widely used treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Relatively lower cure rates and lumefantrine levels have been reported in young children and in pregnant women during their second and third trimester. The aim of this study was to investigate the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of lumefantrine and the pharmacokinetic properties of its metabolite, desbutyl-lumefantrine, in order to inform optimal dosing regimens in all patient populations. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A search in PubMed, Embase,, Google Scholar, conference proceedings, and the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) pharmacology database identified 31 relevant clinical studies published between 1 January 1990 and 31 December 2012, with 4,546 patients in whom lumefantrine concentrations were measured. Under the auspices of WWARN, relevant individual concentration-time data, clinical covariates, and outcome data from 4,122 patients were made available and pooled for the meta-analysis. The developed lumefantrine population pharmacokinetic model was used for dose optimisation through in silico simulations. Venous plasma lumefantrine concentrations 7 days after starting standard AL treatment were 24.2% and 13.4% lower in children weighing <15 kg and 15-25 kg, respectively, and 20.2% lower in pregnant women compared with non-pregnant adults. Lumefantrine exposure decreased with increasing pre-treatment parasitaemia, and the dose limitation on absorption of lumefantrine was substantial. Simulations using the lumefantrine pharmacokinetic model suggest that, in young children and pregnant women beyond the first trimester, lengthening the dose regimen (twice daily for 5 days) and, to a lesser extent, intensifying the frequency of dosing (3 times daily for 3 days) would be more efficacious than using higher individual doses in the current standard treatment regimen (twice daily for 3 days). The model was developed using venous plasma data from patients receiving intact tablets with fat, and evaluations of alternative dosing regimens were consequently only representative for venous plasma after administration of intact tablets with fat. The absence of artemether-dihydroartemisinin data limited the prediction of parasite killing rates and recrudescent infections. Thus, the suggested optimised dosing schedule was based on the pharmacokinetic endpoint of lumefantrine plasma exposure at day 7. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that revised AL dosing regimens for young children and pregnant women would improve drug exposure but would require longer or more complex schedules. These dosing regimens should be evaluated in prospective clinical studies to determine whether they would improve cure rates, demonstrate adequate safety, and thereby prolong the useful therapeutic life of this valuable antimalarial treatment.

Hinjoy S, Hantrakun V, Kongyu S, Kaewrakmuk J, Wangrangsimakul T, Jitsuronk S, Saengchun W, Bhengsri S, Akarachotpong T, Thamthitiwat S et al. 2018. Melioidosis in Thailand: Present and Future. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (2), pp. 38. | Citations: 4 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

A recent modelling study estimated that there are 2800 deaths due to melioidosis in Thailand yearly. The Thailand Melioidosis Network (formed in 2012) has been working closely with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to investigate and reduce the burden of this disease. Based on updated data, the incidence of melioidosis is still high in Northeast Thailand. More than 2000 culture-confirmed cases of melioidosis are diagnosed in general hospitals with microbiology laboratories in this region each year. The mortality rate is around 35%. Melioidosis is endemic throughout Thailand, but it is still not uncommon that microbiological facilities misidentify Burkholderia pseudomallei as a contaminant or another organism. Disease awareness is low, and people in rural areas neither wear boots nor boil water before drinking to protect themselves from acquiring B. pseudomallei. Previously, about 10 melioidosis deaths were formally reported to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (Report 506) each year, thus limiting priority setting by the MoPH. In 2015, the formally reported number of melioidosis deaths rose to 112, solely because Sunpasithiprasong Hospital, Ubon Ratchathani province, reported its own data (n = 107). Melioidosis is truly an important cause of death in Thailand, and currently reported cases (Report 506) and cases diagnosed at research centers reflect the tip of the iceberg. Laboratory training and communication between clinicians and laboratory personnel are required to improve diagnosis and treatment of melioidosis countrywide. Implementation of rapid diagnostic tests, such as a lateral flow antigen detection assay, with high accuracy even in melioidosis-endemic countries such as Thailand, is critically needed. Reporting of all culture-confirmed melioidosis cases from every hospital with a microbiology laboratory, together with final outcome data, is mandated under the Communicable Diseases Act B.E.2558. By enforcing this legislation, the MoPH could raise the priority of this disease, and should consider implementing a campaign to raise awareness and melioidosis prevention countrywide.

Rudd KE, Seymour CW, Aluisio AR, Augustin ME, Bagenda DS, Beane A, Byiringiro JC, Chang C-CH, Colas LN, Day NPJ et al. 2018. Association of the Quick Sequential (Sepsis-Related) Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) Score With Excess Hospital Mortality in Adults With Suspected Infection in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. JAMA, 319 (21), pp. 2202-2211. | Citations: 18 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Importance: The quick Sequential (Sepsis-Related) Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score has not been well-evaluated in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Objective: To assess the association of qSOFA with excess hospital death among patients with suspected infection in LMICs and to compare qSOFA with the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria. Design, Settings, and Participants: Retrospective secondary analysis of 8 cohort studies and 1 randomized clinical trial from 2003 to 2017. This study included 6569 hospitalized adults with suspected infection in emergency departments, inpatient wards, and intensive care units of 17 hospitals in 10 LMICs across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Exposures: Low (0), moderate (1), or high (≥2) qSOFA score (range, 0 [best] to 3 [worst]) or SIRS criteria (range, 0 [best] to 4 [worst]) within 24 hours of presentation to study hospital. Main Outcomes and Measures: Predictive validity (measured as incremental hospital mortality beyond that predicted by baseline risk factors, as a marker of sepsis or analogous severe infectious course) of the qSOFA score (primary) and SIRS criteria (secondary). Results: The cohorts were diverse in enrollment criteria, demographics (median ages, 29-54 years; males range, 36%-76%), HIV prevalence (range, 2%-43%), cause of infection, and hospital mortality (range, 1%-39%). Among 6218 patients with nonmissing outcome status in the combined cohort, 643 (10%) died. Compared with a low or moderate score, a high qSOFA score was associated with increased risk of death overall (19% vs 6%; difference, 13% [95% CI, 11%-14%]; odds ratio, 3.6 [95% CI, 3.0-4.2]) and across cohorts (P < .05 for 8 of 9 cohorts). Compared with a low qSOFA score, a moderate qSOFA score was also associated with increased risk of death overall (8% vs 3%; difference, 5% [95% CI, 4%-6%]; odds ratio, 2.8 [95% CI, 2.0-3.9]), but not in every cohort (P < .05 in 2 of 7 cohorts). High, vs low or moderate, SIRS criteria were associated with a smaller increase in risk of death overall (13% vs 8%; difference, 5% [95% CI, 3%-6%]; odds ratio, 1.7 [95% CI, 1.4-2.0]) and across cohorts (P < .05 for 4 of 9 cohorts). qSOFA discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUROC], 0.70 [95% CI, 0.68-0.72]) was superior to that of both the baseline model (AUROC, 0.56 [95% CI, 0.53-0.58; P < .001) and SIRS (AUROC, 0.59 [95% CI, 0.57-0.62]; P < .001). Conclusions and Relevance: When assessed among hospitalized adults with suspected infection in 9 LMIC cohorts, the qSOFA score identified infected patients at risk of death beyond that explained by baseline factors. However, the predictive validity varied among cohorts and settings, and further research is needed to better understand potential generalizability.

Ashley EA, Dance DAB, Turner P. 2018. Grading antimicrobial susceptibility data quality: room for improvement. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (6), pp. 603-604. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Chowdhury FR, Ibrahim QSU, Bari MS, Alam MMJ, Dunachie SJ, Rodriguez-Morales AJ, Patwary MI. 2018. The association between temperature, rainfall and humidity with common climate-sensitive infectious diseases in Bangladesh. PLoS One, 13 (6), pp. e0199579. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Bangladesh is one of the world's most vulnerable countries for climate change. This observational study examined the association of temperature, humidity and rainfall with six common climate-sensitive infectious diseases in adults (malaria, diarrheal disease, enteric fever, encephalitis, pneumonia and bacterial meningitis) in northeastern Bangladesh. Subjects admitted to the adult medicine ward of a tertiary referral hospital in Sylhet, Bangladesh from 2008 to 2012 with a diagnosis of one of the six chosen climate-sensitive infectious diseases were enrolled in the study. Climate-related data were collected from the Bangladesh Meteorological Institute. Disease incidence was then analyzed against mean temperature, humidity and average rainfall for the Sylhet region. Statistical significance was determined using Mann-Whitney test, Chi-square test and ANOVA testing. 5033 patients were enrolled (58% male, 42% female, ratio 1.3:1). All six diseases showed highly significant (p = 0.01) rises in incidence between the study years 2008 (540 cases) and 2012 (1330 cases), compared with no significant rise in overall all-cause hospital admissions in the same period (p = 0.19). The highest number of malaria (135), diarrhea (266) and pneumonia (371) cases occurred during the rainy season. On the other hand, the maximum number of enteric fever (408), encephalitis (183) and meningitis (151) cases occurred during autumn, which follows the rainy season. A positive (P = 0.01) correlation was observed between increased temperature and the incidence of malaria, enteric fever and diarrhea, and a negative correlation with encephalitis, meningitis and pneumonia. Higher humidity correlated (P = 0.01) with a higher number of cases of malaria and diarrhea, but inversely correlated with meningitis and encephalitis. Higher incidences of encephalitis and meningitis occurred while there was low rainfall. Incidences of diarrhea, malaria and enteric fever, increased with rainfall, and then gradually decreased. The findings support a relationship between weather patterns and disease incidence, and provide essential baseline data for future large prospective studies.

Asnong C, Fellmeth G, Plugge E, Wai NS, Pimanpanarak M, Paw MK, Charunwatthana P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2018. Adolescents' perceptions and experiences of pregnancy in refugee and migrant communities on the Thailand-Myanmar border: a qualitative study. Reprod Health, 15 (1), pp. 83. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Adolescent pregnancy remains a global health concern, contributing to 11% of all births worldwide and 23% of the overall burden of disease in girls aged 15-19 years. Premature motherhood can create a negative cycle of adverse health, economic and social outcomes for young women, their babies and families. Refugee and migrant adolescent girls might be particularly at risk due to poverty, poor education and health infrastructure, early marriage, limited access to contraception and traditional beliefs. This study aims to explore adolescents' perceptions and experiences of pregnancy in refugee and migrant communities on the Thailand-Myanmar border. METHODS: In June 2016 qualitative data were collected in one refugee camp and one migrant clinic along the Thailand-Myanmar border by conducting 20 individual interviews with pregnant refugee and migrant adolescents and 4 focus group discussions with husbands, adolescent boys and non-pregnant girls and antenatal clinic staff. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify codes and themes emerging from the data. RESULTS: Study participants perceived adolescent pregnancy as a premature life event that could jeopardise their future. Important themes were premarital sex, forced marriage, lack of contraception, school dropout, fear of childbirth, financial insecurity, support structures and domestic violence. Supportive relationships with mothers, husbands and friends could turn this largely negative experience into a more positive one. The main underlying reasons for adolescent pregnancy were associated with traditional views and stigma on sexual and reproductive health issues, resulting in a knowledge gap on contraception and life skills necessary to negotiate sexual and reproductive choices, in particular for unmarried adolescents. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents perceive pregnancy as a challenging life event that can be addressed by developing comprehensive adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and education in refugee and migrant communities on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Creating a more tolerant and less stigmatising environment in these communities and their governing bodies will help to achieve this goal.

Bharucha T, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Seephonelee M, Vongsouvath M, Vongsouvath M, Rattanavong S, Piorkowski G, Lecuit M, Gorman C, Pommier J-D et al. 2018. Detection of Japanese Encephalitis Virus RNA in Human Throat Samples in Laos - A Pilot study. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 8018. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the most commonly identified cause of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Asia. The WHO recommended test is anti-JEV IgM-antibody-capture-enzyme-linked-immunosorbent-assay (JEV MAC-ELISA). However, data suggest this has low positive predictive value, with false positives related to other Flavivirus infections and vaccination. JEV RT-PCR in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and/or serum is highly specific, but is rarely positive; 0-25% of patients that fulfil the WHO definition of JE (clinical Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and JEV MAC-ELISA positive). Testing other body fluids by JEV RT-qPCR may improve the diagnosis. As a pilot study thirty patients admitted to Mahosot Hospital 2014-2017, recruited to the South-East-Asia-Encephalitis study, were tested by JEV MAC-ELISA and two JEV real-time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) assays (NS2A and NS3). Eleven (36.7%) were JEV MAC-ELISA positive. Available CSF and serum samples of these patients were JEV RT-qPCR negative but 2 (7%) had JEV RNA detected in their throat swabs. JEV RNA was confirmed by re-testing, and sequencing of RT-qPCR products. As the first apparent report of JEV RNA detection in human throat samples, the provides new perspectives on human JEV infection, potentially informing improving JEV detection. We suggest that testing patients' throat swabs for JEV RNA is performed, in combination with molecular and serological CSF and serum investigations, on a larger scale to investigate the epidemiology of the presence of JEV in human throats. Throat swabs are an easy and non-invasive tool that could be rolled out to a wider population to improve knowledge of JEV molecular epidemiology.

Mukhopadhyay C, Shaw T, Varghese GM, Dance DAB. 2018. Melioidosis in South Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Afghanistan). Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (2), pp. 51-51. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite the fact that South Asia is predicted to have the highest number of cases worldwide, melioidosis is a little-known entity in South Asian countries. It has never been heard of by the majority of doctors and has as yet failed to gain the attention of national Ministries of Health and country offices of the World Health Organization (WHO). Although a few centers are diagnosing increasing numbers of cases, and the mortality documented from these institutions is relatively high (nearly 20%), the true burden of the disease remains unknown. In India, most cases have been reported from southwestern coastal Karnataka and northeastern Tamil Nadu, although this probably simply reflects the presence of centers of excellence and researchers with an interest in the disease. As elsewhere, the majority of cases have type 2 diabetes mellitus and occupational exposure to the environment. Most present with community-acquired pneumonia and/or bacteremia, especially during heavy rainfall. The high seropositivity rate (29%) in Karnataka and isolation of B. pseudomallei from the environment in Tamil Nadu and Kerala confirm India as melioidosis-endemic, although the full extent of the distribution of the organism across the country is unknown. There are limited molecular epidemiological data, but, thus far, the majority of Indian isolates have appeared distinct from those from South East Asia and Australia. Among other South Asian countries, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are known to be melioidosis-endemic, but there are no cases that have conclusively proved to have been acquired in Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan or Pakistan. There are no surveillance systems in place for melioidosis in South Asian countries. However, over the past two years, researchers at the Center for Emerging and Tropical Diseases of Kasturba Medical College, University of Manipal, have established the Indian Melioidosis Research Forum (IMRF), held the first South Asian Melioidosis Congress, and have been working to connect researchers, microbiologists and physicians in India and elsewhere in South Asia to raise awareness through training initiatives, the media, workshops, and conferences, with the hope that more patients with melioidosis will be diagnosed and treated appropriately. However, much more work needs to be done before we will know the true burden and distribution of melioidosis across South Asia.

Fellmeth G, Plugge E, Fazel M, Charunwattana P, Nosten F, Fitzpatrick R, Simpson JA, McGready R. 2018. Validation of the Refugee Health Screener-15 for the assessment of perinatal depression among Karen and Burmese women on the Thai-Myanmar border. PLoS One, 13 (5), pp. e0197403. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Perinatal depression is common, and left untreated can have significant and long-lasting consequences for women, their children and their families. Migrant women are at particular risk of perinatal depression as a result of a multitude of stressors experienced before, during and after migration. Identification of perinatal depression among migrant women-particularly those living in low- and middle-income regions-remains challenging, partly due to the lack of locally-validated and culturally appropriate screens tools. This study formally validates Burmese and Sgaw Karen versions of the Refugee Health Screener-15 (RHS-15) as a screening tool for perinatal depression among migrant women living on the Thai-Myanmar border. The Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnosis of DSM-IV Disorders (SCID) was used as the gold-standard comparator. Complete results were obtained for 235 Burmese-speaking and 275 Sgaw Karen-speaking women. Despite displaying reasonable psychometric properties, a number of shortcomings associated with the RHS-15 limited its utility in this setting. The Likert-type response categories of the RHS-15 proved problematic in this low-literacy population. Combined with the relative superiority and greater ease of administration of the SCID, the RHS-15 is not recommended as the tool of choice for detecting perinatal depression in this setting.

Parker AL, Parker DM, Zan BN, Min AM, Gilder ME, Ringringulu M, Win E, Wiladphaingern J, Charunwatthana P, Nosten F et al. 2018. Trends and birth outcomes in adolescent refugees and migrants on the Thailand-Myanmar border, 1986-2016: an observational study. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 62. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Currently there are more adolescents (10-19 years old) and young adults (20-24 years old) than ever. Reproductive health among this age group is often overlooked, although it can have a profound impact on the future. This is especially the case in conflict zones and refugee settings, where there is a heightened need for reproductive health care, and where both the resources and possibility for data collation are usually limited. Methods: Here we report on pregnancies, birth outcomes and risk factors for repeat pregnancies among adolescent and young adult refugees and migrants from antenatal clinics on the Thailand-Myanmar border across a 30 year time span. Results: Pregnancy and fertility rates were persistently high. Compared with 20-24-year-olds, 15-19-year-olds who reported being unable to read had 2.35 (CI: 1.97 - 2.81) times the odds for repeat pregnancy (gravidity >2). In primigravidae, the proportion of small for gestational age (SGA) and preterm births (PTB), and neonatal deaths (NND) decreased with increasing maternal age (all p <0.001). After adjustment, this association retained significance for PTB (cut-off point, ≤18 years) but not for SGA and NND. Conclusions: There is considerable room for improvement in adolescent pregnancy rates in these border populations, and educational opportunities may play a key role in effective interventions.

Chan J, Nguyen CD, Lai JYR, Dunne EM, Andrews R, Blyth CC, Datta S, Fox K, Ford R, Hinds J et al. 2018. Determining the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine coverage required for indirect protection against vaccine-type pneumococcal carriage in low and middle-income countries: a protocol for a prospective observational study. BMJ Open, 8 (5), pp. e021512. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) prevent disease through both direct protection of vaccinated individuals and indirect protection of unvaccinated individuals by reducing nasopharyngeal (NP) carriage and transmission of vaccine-type (VT) pneumococci. While the indirect effects of PCV vaccination are well described, the PCV coverage required to achieve the indirect effects is unknown. We will investigate the relationship between PCV coverage and VT carriage among undervaccinated children using hospital-based NP pneumococcal carriage surveillance at three sites in Asia and the Pacific. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We are recruiting cases, defined as children aged 2-59 months admitted to participating hospitals with acute respiratory infection in Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea. Thirteen-valent PCV status is obtained from written records. NP swabs are collected according to standard methods, screened using lytA qPCR and serotyped by microarray. Village-level vaccination coverage, for the resident communities of the recruited cases, is determined using administrative data or community survey. Our analysis will investigate the relationship between VT carriage among undervaccinated cases (indirect effects) and vaccine coverage using generalised estimating equations. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval has been obtained from the relevant ethics committees at participating sites. The results are intended for publication in open-access peer-reviewed journals and will demonstrate methods suitable for low- and middle-income countries to monitor vaccine impact and inform vaccine policy makers about the PCV coverage required to achieve indirect protection.

Salter S, Scott P, Page A, Tracey A, de Goffau M, Ochoa-Montaño B, Ling C, Tangmanakit J, Turner P, Parkhill J. 2018. Candidatus Ornithobacterium hominis sp. nov.: insights gained from draft genomes obtained from nasopharyngeal swabs | Show Abstract | Read more

Candidatus Ornithobacterium hominis sp. nov. represents a new member of the Flavobacteriaceae detected in 16S rRNA gene surveys from Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia. It frequently colonises the infant nasopharynx at high proportional abundance, and we demonstrate its presence in 42% of nasopharyngeal swabs from 12 month old children in the Maela refugee camp in Thailand. The species, a Gram negative bacillus, has not yet been cultured but the cells can be identified in mixed samples by fluorescent hybridisation. Here we report seven genomes assembled from metagenomic data, two to improved draft standard. The genomes are approximately 1.9Mb, sharing 62% average amino acid identity with the only other member of the genus, the bird pathogen Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale. The draft genomes encode multiple antibiotic resistance genes, competition factors, Flavobacterium johnsoniae-like gliding motility genes and a homolog of the Pasteurella multocida mitogenic toxin. Intra- and inter-host genome comparison suggests that colonisation with this bacterium is both persistent and strain exclusive.

Ippolito MM, Jacobson JM, Lederman MM, Winterberg M, Tarning J, Shapiro TA, Flexner C. 2018. Effect of Antiretroviral Therapy on Plasma Concentrations of Chloroquine and Desethyl-chloroquine. Clin Infect Dis, 67 (10), pp. 1617-1620. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on chloroquine and desethyl-chloroquine plasma concentrations was evaluated in clinical trial participants. Concentrations did not differ among participants receiving protease inhibitor-based ART (n = 9), efavirenz-based ART (n = 15), or other ART (n = 8) and those not receiving ART (n = 31). Efavirenz seemed to inhibit chloroquine desethylation.

Loan HT, Yen LM, Kestelyn E, Hao NV, Thanh TT, Dung NTP, Turner HC, Geskus RB, Wolbers M, Tan LV et al. 2018. Intrathecal Immunoglobulin for treatment of adult patients with tetanus: A randomized controlled 2x2 factorial trial. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 58. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite long-standing availability of an effective vaccine, tetanus remains a significant problem in many countries. Outcome depends on access to mechanical ventilation and intensive care facilities and in settings where these are limited, mortality remains high. Administration of tetanus antitoxin by the intramuscular route is recommended treatment for tetanus, but as the tetanus toxin acts within the central nervous system, it has been suggested that intrathecal administration of antitoxin may be beneficial. Previous studies have indicated benefit, but with the exception of one small trial no blinded studies have been performed. The objective of this study is to establish whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin reduces the need for mechanical ventilation in patients with tetanus. Secondary objectives: to determine whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin reduces autonomic nervous system dysfunction and length of hospital/ intensive care unit stay; whether the addition of intrathecal tetanus antitoxin in the treatment of tetanus is safe and cost-effective; to provide data to inform recommendation of human rather than equine antitoxin. This study will enroll adult patients (≥16 years old) with tetanus admitted to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City. The study is a 2x2 factorial blinded randomized controlled trial. Eligible patients will be randomized in a 1:1:1:1 manner to the four treatment arms (intrathecal treatment and human intramuscular treatment, intrathecal treatment and equine intramuscular treatment, sham procedure and human intramuscular treatment, sham procedure and equine intramuscular treatment). Primary outcome measure will be requirement for mechanical ventilation. Secondary outcome measures: duration of hospital/ intensive care unit stay, duration of mechanical ventilation, in-hospital and 240-day mortality and disability, new antibiotic prescription, incidence of ventilator associated pneumonia and autonomic nervous system dysfunction, total dose of benzodiazepines and pipecuronium, and incidence of adverse events. Trial registration: NCT02999815 Registration date: 21 December 2016.

Lim R, Tripura R, J Peto T, Sareth M, Sanann N, Davoeung C, Nguon C, Cheah PY. 2018. Drama as a community engagement strategy for malaria in rural Cambodia Wellcome Open Research, 2 pp. 95-95. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Bunnik EM, Cook KB, Varoquaux N, Batugedara G, Prudhomme J, Cort A, Shi L, Andolina C, Ross LS, Brady D et al. 2018. Changes in genome organization of parasite-specific gene families during the Plasmodium transmission stages. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 1910. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of malaria parasites throughout their various life cycle stages is coordinated by changes in gene expression. We previously showed that the three-dimensional organization of the Plasmodium falciparum genome is strongly associated with gene expression during its replication cycle inside red blood cells. Here, we analyze genome organization in the P. falciparum and P. vivax transmission stages. Major changes occur in the localization and interactions of genes involved in pathogenesis and immune evasion, host cell invasion, sexual differentiation, and master regulation of gene expression. Furthermore, we observe reorganization of subtelomeric heterochromatin around genes involved in host cell remodeling. Depletion of heterochromatin protein 1 (PfHP1) resulted in loss of interactions between virulence genes, confirming that PfHP1 is essential for maintenance of the repressive center. Our results suggest that the three-dimensional genome structure of human malaria parasites is strongly connected with transcriptional activity of specific gene families throughout the life cycle.

Luangasanatip N, Hongsuwan M, Lubell Y, Limmathurotsakul D, Srisamang P, Day NPJ, Graves N, Cooper BS. 2018. Cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve hand hygiene in healthcare workers in middle-income hospital settings: a model-based analysis. J Hosp Infect, 100 (2), pp. 165-175. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Multi-modal interventions are effective in increasing hand hygiene (HH) compliance among healthcare workers, but it is not known whether such interventions are cost-effective outside high-income countries. AIM: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of multi-modal hospital interventions to improve HH compliance in a middle-income country. METHODS: Using a conservative approach, a model was developed to determine whether reductions in meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections (MRSA-BSIs) alone would make HH interventions cost-effective in intensive care units (ICUs). Transmission dynamic and decision analytic models were combined to determine the expected impact of HH interventions on MRSA-BSI incidence and evaluate their cost-effectiveness. A series of sensitivity analyses and hypothetical scenarios making different assumptions about transmissibility were explored to generalize the findings. FINDINGS: Interventions increasing HH compliance from a 10% baseline to ≥20% are likely to be cost-effective solely through reduced MRSA-BSI. Increasing compliance from 10% to 40% was estimated to cost US$2515 per 10,000 bed-days with 3.8 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained in a paediatric ICU (PICU) and US$1743 per 10,000 bed-days with 3.7 QALYs gained in an adult ICU. If baseline compliance is not >20%, the intervention is always cost-effective even with only a 10% compliance improvement. CONCLUSION: Effective multi-modal HH interventions are likely to be cost-effective due to preventing MRSA-BSI alone in ICU settings in middle-income countries where baseline compliance is typically low. Where compliance is higher, the cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve it further will depend on the impact on hospital-acquired infections other than MRSA-BSI.

Aguas R, Maude RJ, Gomes MGM, White LJ, White NJ, Dondorp AM. 2018. Infectivity of Chronic Malaria Infections and Its Consequences for Control and Elimination. Clin Infect Dis, 67 (2), pp. 295-302. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessing the importance of targeting the chronic Plasmodium falciparum malaria reservoir is pivotal as the world moves toward malaria eradication. Through the lens of a mathematical model, we show how, for a given malaria prevalence, the relative infectivity of chronic individuals determines what intervention tools are predicted be the most effective. Crucially, in a large part of the parameter space where elimination is theoretically possible, it can be achieved solely through improved case management. However, there are a significant number of settings where malaria elimination requires not only good vector control but also a mass drug administration campaign. Quantifying the relative infectiousness of chronic malaria across a range of epidemiological settings would provide essential information for the design of effective malaria elimination strategies. Given the difficulties obtaining this information, we also provide a set of epidemiological metrics that can be used to guide policy in the absence of such data.

Roth A, Maher SP, Conway AJ, Ubalee R, Chaumeau V, Andolina C, Kaba SA, Vantaux A, Bakowski MA, Thomson-Luque R et al. 2018. A comprehensive model for assessment of liver stage therapies targeting Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 1837. | Citations: 12 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria liver stages represent an ideal therapeutic target with a bottleneck in parasite load and reduced clinical symptoms; however, current in vitro pre-erythrocytic (PE) models for Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum lack the efficiency necessary for rapid identification and effective evaluation of new vaccines and drugs, especially targeting late liver-stage development and hypnozoites. Herein we report the development of a 384-well plate culture system using commercially available materials, including cryopreserved primary human hepatocytes. Hepatocyte physiology is maintained for at least 30 days and supports development of P. vivax hypnozoites and complete maturation of P. vivax and P. falciparum schizonts. Our multimodal analysis in antimalarial therapeutic research identifies important PE inhibition mechanisms: immune antibodies against sporozoite surface proteins functionally inhibit liver stage development and ion homeostasis is essential for schizont and hypnozoite viability. This model can be implemented in laboratories in disease-endemic areas to accelerate vaccine and drug discovery research.

Algera AG, Pisani L, Bergmans DCJ, den Boer S, de Borgie CAJ, Bosch FH, Bruin K, Cherpanath TG, Determann RM, Dondorp AM et al. 2018. RELAx - REstricted versus Liberal positive end-expiratory pressure in patients without ARDS: protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 19 (1), pp. 272. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Evidence for benefit of high positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) is largely lacking for invasively ventilated, critically ill patients with uninjured lungs. We hypothesize that ventilation with low PEEP is noninferior to ventilation with high PEEP with regard to the number of ventilator-free days and being alive at day 28 in this population.  METHODS/DESIGN: The "REstricted versus Liberal positive end-expiratory pressure in patients without ARDS" trial (RELAx) is a national, multicenter, randomized controlled, noninferiority trial in adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients with uninjured lungs who are expected not to be extubated within 24 h. RELAx will run in 13 ICUs in the Netherlands to enroll 980 patients under invasive ventilation. In all patients, low tidal volumes are used. Patients assigned to ventilation with low PEEP will receive the lowest possible PEEP between 0 and 5 cm H2O, while patients assigned to ventilation with high PEEP will receive PEEP of 8 cm H2O. The primary endpoint is the number of ventilator-free days and being alive at day 28, a composite endpoint for liberation from the ventilator and mortality until day 28, with a noninferiority margin for a difference between groups of 0.5 days. Secondary endpoints are length of stay (LOS), mortality, and occurrence of pulmonary complications, including severe hypoxemia, major atelectasis, need for rescue therapies, pneumonia, pneumothorax, and development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Hemodynamic support and sedation needs will be collected and compared. DISCUSSION: RELAx will be the first sufficiently sized randomized controlled trial in invasively ventilated, critically ill patients with uninjured lungs using a clinically relevant and objective endpoint to determine whether invasive, low-tidal-volume ventilation with low PEEP is noninferior to ventilation with high PEEP. TRIAL REGISTRATION: , ID: NCT03167580 . Registered on 23 May 2017.

Bancone G, Gornsawun G, Chu CS, Porn P, Pal S, Bansil P, Domingo GJ, Nosten F. 2018. Validation of the quantitative point-of-care CareStart biosensor for assessment of G6PD activity in venous blood. PLoS One, 13 (5), pp. e0196716. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is the most common enzymopathy in the human population affecting an estimated 8% of the world population, especially those living in areas of past and present malaria endemicity. Decreased G6PD enzymatic activity is associated with drug-induced hemolysis and increased risk of severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia leading to brain damage. The G6PD gene is on the X chromosome therefore mutations cause enzymatic deficiency in hemizygote males and homozygote females while the majority of heterozygous females have an intermediate activity (between 30-80% of normal) with a large distribution into the range of deficiency and normality. Current G6PD qualitative tests are unable to diagnose G6PD intermediate activities which could hinder wide use of 8-aminoquinolines for Plasmodium vivax elimination. The aim of the study was to assess the diagnostic performances of the new Carestart G6PD quantitative biosensor. METHODS: A total of 150 samples of venous blood with G6PD deficient, intermediate and normal phenotypes were collected among healthy volunteers living along the north-western Thailand-Myanmar border. Samples were analyzed by complete blood count, by gold standard spectrophotometric assay using Trinity kits and by the latest model of Carestart G6PD biosensor which analyzes both G6PD and hemoglobin. RESULTS: Bland-Altman comparison of the CareStart normalized G6PD values to that of the gold standard assay showed a strong bias in values resulting in poor area under-the-curve values for both 30% and 80% thresholds. Performing a receiver operator curve identified threshold values for the CareStart product equivalent to the 30% and 80% gold standard values with good sensitivity and specificity values, 100% and 92% (for 30% G6PD activity) and 92% and 94% (for 80% activity) respectively. CONCLUSION: The Carestart G6PD biosensor represents a significant improvement for quantitative diagnosis of G6PD deficiency over previous versions. Further improvements and validation studies are required to assess its utility for informing radical cure decisions in malaria endemic settings.

de Jong HK, Parry CM, van der Vaart TW, Kager LM, van den Ende SJ, Maude RR, Wijedoru L, Ghose A, Hassan MU, Hossain MA et al. 2018. Activation of coagulation and endothelium with concurrent impairment of anticoagulant mechanisms in patients with typhoid fever. J Infect, 77 (1), pp. 60-67. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Typhoid fever caused by Salmonella Typhi remains a major burden worldwide. Gastrointestinal bleeding can be seen in up to 10 percent of patients and may be fatal. The coagulopathy, which may be the driver of this severe complication in patients with typhoid fever, however is ill defined. The aim of this study was to evaluate the activation of coagulation, anticoagulation, and fibrinolysis in patients with acute typhoid fever. METHODS: Parameters of coagulation and fibrinolysis were measured in 28 hospitalized patients with culture-confirmed or PCR-confirmed typhoid fever and compared to 38 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. RESULTS: Patients demonstrated activation of the coagulation system, as reflected by elevated in vitro thrombin generation and high plasma levels of fibrinogen, D-dimer and prothrombin fragment F1 + 2 in concert with consumption of coagulation factors resulting in a prolonged prothrombin-time and activated-partial-thromboplastin-time. Concurrently, the anticoagulant proteins, protein C and antithrombin, were significantly lower in comparison to healthy controls. Patients also demonstrated evidence of activation and inhibition of fibrinolysis and a marked activation of endothelial cells. The extent of coagulation activation was associated with the course of the disease, repeated testing during convalescence showed a return toward normal values. CONCLUSIONS: Activation of coagulation is an important clinical feature of typhoid fever and is associated with severity of disease.

Bopp S, Magistrado P, Wong W, Schaffner SF, Mukherjee A, Lim P, Dhorda M, Amaratunga C, Woodrow CJ, Ashley EA et al. 2018. Plasmepsin II-III copy number accounts for bimodal piperaquine resistance among Cambodian Plasmodium falciparum. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 1769. | Citations: 11 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Multidrug resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia endangers regional malaria elimination and threatens to spread to other malaria endemic areas. Understanding mechanisms of piperaquine (PPQ) resistance is crucial for tracking its emergence and spread, and to develop effective strategies for overcoming it. Here we analyze a mechanism of PPQ resistance in Cambodian parasites. Isolates exhibit a bimodal dose-response curve when exposed to PPQ, with the area under the curve quantifying their survival in vitro. Increased copy number for plasmepsin II and plasmepsin III appears to explain enhanced survival when exposed to PPQ in most, but not all cases. A panel of isogenic subclones reinforces the importance of plasmepsin II-III copy number to enhanced PPQ survival. We conjecture that factors producing increased parasite survival under PPQ exposure in vitro may drive clinical PPQ failures in the field.

Woods KL, Boutthasavong L, NicFhogartaigh C, Lee SJ, Davong V, AuCoin DP, Dance DAB. 2018. Evaluation of a Rapid Diagnostic Test for Detection of Burkholderia pseudomallei in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. J Clin Microbiol, 56 (7), | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei causes significant global morbidity and mortality, with the highest disease burden in parts of Asia where culture-based diagnosis is often not available. We prospectively evaluated the Active Melioidosis Detect (AMD; InBios International, USA) lateral flow immunoassay (LFI) for rapid detection of B. pseudomallei in turbid blood cultures, pus, sputum, sterile fluid, urine, and sera. The performance of this test was compared to that of B. pseudomallei detection using monoclonal antibody latex agglutination (LA) and immunofluorescence assays (IFA), with culture as the gold standard. AMD was 99% (99/100; 95% confidence interval, 94.6 to 100%) sensitive and 100% (308/308; 98.8 to 100%) specific on turbid blood culture bottles, with no difference from LA or IFA. AMD specificity was 100% on pus (122/122; 97.0 to 100%), sputum (20/20; 83.2 to 100%), and sterile fluid (44/44; 92 to 100%). Sensitivity on these samples was as follows: pus, 47.1% (8/17; 23.0 to 72.2%); sputum, 33.3% (1/3; 0.84 to 90.6%); and sterile fluid, 0% (0/2; 0 to 84.2%). For urine samples, AMD had a positive predictive value of 94% (32/34; 79.7 to 98.5%) for diagnosing melioidosis in our cohort. AMD sensitivity on stored sera, collected prospectively from melioidosis cases during this study, was 13.9% (5/36; 4.7% to 29.5%) compared to blood culture samples taken on the same day. In conclusion, AMD is an excellent tool for rapid diagnosis of melioidosis from turbid blood cultures and maintains specificity across all sample types. It is a promising tool for urinary antigen detection, which could revolutionize diagnosis of melioidosis in resource-limited settings. Further work is required to improve sensitivity on nonblood culture samples.

Fox-Lewis A, Takata J, Miliya T, Lubell Y, Soeng S, Sar P, Rith K, McKellar G, Wuthiekanun V, McGonagle E et al. 2018. Antimicrobial Resistance in Invasive Bacterial Infections in Hospitalized Children, Cambodia, 2007-2016. Emerg Infect Dis, 24 (5), pp. 841-851. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

To determine trends, mortality rates, and costs of antimicrobial resistance in invasive bacterial infections in hospitalized children, we analyzed data from Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap, Cambodia, for 2007-2016. A total of 39,050 cultures yielded 1,341 target pathogens. Resistance rates were high; 82% each of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates were multidrug resistant. Hospital-acquired isolates were more often resistant than community-acquired isolates; resistance trends over time were heterogeneous. K. pneumoniae isolates from neonates were more likely than those from nonneonates to be resistant to ampicillin-gentamicin and third-generation cephalosporins. In patients with community-acquired gram-negative bacteremia, third-generation cephalosporin resistance was associated with increased mortality rates, increased intensive care unit admissions, and 2.26-fold increased healthcare costs among survivors. High antimicrobial resistance in this setting is a threat to human life and the economy. In similar low-resource settings, our methods could be reproduced as a robust surveillance model for antimicrobial resistance.

Mazzinari G, Ball L, Serpa Neto A, Errando CL, Dondorp AM, Bos LD, Gama de Abreu M, Pelosi P, Schultz MJ. 2018. The fragility of statistically significant findings in randomised controlled anaesthesiology trials: systematic review of the medical literature. Br J Anaesth, 120 (5), pp. 935-941. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The fragility index (FI), the number of events the statistical significance a result depends on, and the number of patients lost to follow-up are important parameters for interpreting randomised clinical trial results. We evaluated these two parameters in randomised controlled trials in anaesthesiology. For this, we performed a systematic search of the medical literature, seeking articles reporting on anaesthesiology trials with a statistically significant difference in the primary outcome and published in the top five general medicine journals, or the top 15 anaesthesiology journals. We restricted the analysis to trials reporting clinically important primary outcome measures. The search identified 139 articles, 35 published in general medicine journals and 104 in anaesthesiology journals. The median (inter-quartile range) sample size was 150 (70-300) patients. The FI was 4 (2-17) and 3 (2-7), and the number of patients lost to follow-up was 0 (0-18) and 0 (0-6) patients in trials published in general medicine and anaesthesiology journals, respectively. The number of patients lost to follow-up exceeded the FI in 41 and 27% in trials in general medicine journals and anaesthesiology journals, respectively. The FI positively correlated with sample size and number of primary outcome events, and negatively correlated with the reported P-values. The results of this systematic review suggest that statistically significant differences in randomised controlled anaesthesiology trials are regularly fragile, implying that the primary outcome status of patients lost to follow-up could possibly have changed the reported effect.

Dance DAB, Sarovich D, Price EP, Limmathurotsakul D, Currie BJ. 2018. Human Infection with Burkholderia thailandensis, China, 2013. Emerg Infect Dis, 24 (5), pp. 953-954. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Landier J, Parker DM, Thu AM, Lwin KM, Delmas G, Nosten FH, Malaria Elimination Task Force Group. 2018. Effect of generalised access to early diagnosis and treatment and targeted mass drug administration on Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Eastern Myanmar: an observational study of a regional elimination programme. Lancet, 391 (10133), pp. 1916-1926. | Citations: 22 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Potentially untreatable Plasmodium falciparum malaria threatens the Greater Mekong subregion. A previous series of pilot projects in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam suggested that mass drug administration was safe, and when added to provision of early diagnosis and treatment, could reduce the reservoir of P falciparum and interrupts transmission. We examined the effects of a scaled-up programme of this strategy in four townships of eastern Myanmar on the incidence of P falciparum malaria. METHODS: The programme was implemented in the four townships of Myawaddy, Kawkareik, Hlaingbwe, and Hpapun in Kayin state, Myanmar. Increased access to early diagnosis and treatment of malaria was provided to all villages through community-based malaria posts equipped with rapid diagnostic tests, and treatment with artemether-lumefantrine plus single low-dose primaquine. Villages were identified as malarial hotspots (operationally defined as >40% malaria, of which 20% was P falciparum) with surveys using ultrasensitive quantitative PCR either randomly or targeted at villages where the incidence of clinical cases of P falciparum malaria remained high (ie, >100 cases per 1000 individuals per year) despite a functioning malaria post. During each survey, a 2 mL sample of venous blood was obtained from randomly selected adults. Hotspots received targeted mass drug administration with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine plus single-dose primaquine once per month for 3 consecutive months in addition to the malaria posts. The main outcome was the change in village incidence of clinical P falciparum malaria, quantified using a multivariate, generalised, additive multilevel model. Malaria prevalence was measured in the hotspots 12 months after mass drug administration. FINDINGS: Between May 1, 2014, and April 30, 2017, 1222 malarial posts were opened, providing early diagnosis and treatment to an estimated 365 000 individuals. Incidence of P falciparum malaria decreased by 60 to 98% in the four townships. 272 prevalence surveys were undertaken and 69 hotspot villages were identified. By April 2017, 50 hotspots were treated with mass drug administration. Hotspot villages had a three times higher incidence of P falciparum at malarial posts than neighbouring villages (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRR] 2·7, 95% CI 1·8-4·4). Early diagnosis and treatment was associated with a significant decrease in P falciparum incidence in hotspots (IRR 0·82, 95% CI 0·76-0·88 per quarter) and in other villages (0·75, 0·73-0·78 per quarter). Mass drug administration was associated with a five-times decrease in P falciparum incidence within hotspot villages (IRR 0·19, 95% CI 0·13-0·26). By April, 2017, 965 villages (79%) of 1222 corresponding to 104 village tracts were free from P falciparum malaria for at least 6 months. The prevalence of wild-type genotype for K13 molecular markers of artemisinin resistance was stable over the three years (39%; 249/631). INTERPRETATION: Providing early diagnosis and effective treatment substantially decreased village-level incidence of artemisinin-resistant P falciparum malaria in hard-to-reach, politically sensitive regions of eastern Myanmar. Targeted mass drug administration significantly reduced malaria incidence in hotspots. If these activities could proceed in all contiguous endemic areas in addition to standard control programmes already implemented, there is a possibility of subnational elimination of P falciparum. FUNDING: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Regional Artemisinin Initiative (Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), and the Wellcome Trust.

Wangrangsimakul T, Althaus T, Mukaka M, Kantipong P, Wuthiekanun V, Chierakul W, Blacksell SD, Day NP, Laongnualpanich A, Paris DH. 2018. Causes of acute undifferentiated fever and the utility of biomarkers in Chiangrai, northern Thailand. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (5), pp. e0006477. | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tropical infectious diseases like dengue, scrub typhus, murine typhus, leptospirosis, and enteric fever continue to contribute substantially to the febrile disease burden throughout Southeast Asia while malaria is declining. Recently, there has been increasing focus on biomarkers (i.e. C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin) in delineating bacterial from viral infections. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A prospective observational study was performed to investigate the causes of acute undifferentiated fever (AUF) in adults admitted to Chiangrai Prachanukroh hospital, northern Thailand, which included an evaluation of CRP and procalcitonin as diagnostic tools. In total, 200 patients with AUF were recruited. Scrub typhus was the leading bacterial cause of AUF (45/200, 22.5%) followed by leptospirosis (15/200, 7.5%) and murine typhus (7/200, 3.5%), while dengue was the leading viral cause (23/200, 11.5%). Bloodstream infections contributed to 7/200 (3.5%) of the study cohort. There were 9 deaths during this study (4.5%): 3 cases of scrub typhus, 2 with septicaemia (Talaromyces marneffei and Haemophilus influenzae), and 4 of unknown aetiologies. Rickettsioses, leptospirosis and culture-attributed bacterial infections, received a combination of 3rd generation cephalosporin plus a rickettsia-active drug in 53%, 73% and 67% of cases, respectively. Low CRP and white blood count were significant predictors of a viral infection (mainly dengue) while the presence of an eschar and elevated aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase were important predictors of scrub typhus. INTERPRETATION: Scrub typhus and dengue are the leading causes of AUF in Chiangrai, Thailand. Eschar, white blood count and CRP were beneficial in differentiating between bacterial and viral infections in this study. CRP outperformed procalcitonin although cut-offs for positivity require further assessment. The study provides evidence that accurate, pathogen-specific rapid diagnostic tests coupled with biomarker point-of-care tests such as CRP can inform the correct use of antibiotics and improve antimicrobial stewardship in this setting.

Pisani L, Algera AG, Serpa Neto A, Ahsan A, Beane A, Chittawatanarat K, Faiz A, Haniffa R, Hashemian R, Hashmi M et al. 2018. PRactice of VENTilation in Middle-Income Countries (PRoVENT-iMIC): rationale and protocol for a prospective international multicentre observational study in intensive care units in Asia. BMJ Open, 8 (4), pp. e020841. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Current evidence on epidemiology and outcomes of invasively mechanically ventilated intensive care unit (ICU) patients is predominantly gathered in resource-rich settings. Patient casemix and patterns of critical illnesses, and probably also ventilation practices are likely to be different in resource-limited settings. We aim to investigate the epidemiological characteristics, ventilation practices and clinical outcomes of patients receiving mechanical ventilation in ICUs in Asia. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: PRoVENT-iMIC (study of PRactice of VENTilation in Middle-Income Countries) is an international multicentre observational study to be undertaken in approximately 60 ICUs in 11 Asian countries. Consecutive patients aged 18 years or older who are receiving invasive ventilation in participating ICUs during a predefined 28-day period are to be enrolled, with a daily follow-up of 7 days. The primary outcome is ventilatory management (including tidal volume expressed as mL/kg predicted body weight and positive end-expiratory pressure expressed as cm H2O) during the first 3 days of mechanical ventilation-compared between patients at no risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), patients at risk for ARDS and in patients with ARDS (in case the diagnosis of ARDS can be made on admission). Secondary outcomes include occurrence of pulmonary complications and all-cause ICU mortality. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: PRoVENT-iMIC will be the first international study that prospectively assesses ventilation practices, outcomes and epidemiology of invasively ventilated patients in ICUs in Asia. The results of this large study, to be disseminated through conference presentations and publications in international peer-reviewed journals, are of ultimate importance when designing trials of invasive ventilation in resource-limited ICUs. Access to source data will be made available through national or international anonymised datasets on request and after agreement of the PRoVENT-iMIC steering committee. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT03188770; Pre-results.

Beane A, De Silva AP, De Silva N, Sujeewa JA, Rathnayake RMD, Sigera PC, Athapattu PL, Mahipala PG, Rashan A, Munasinghe SB et al. 2018. Evaluation of the feasibility and performance of early warning scores to identify patients at risk of adverse outcomes in a low-middle income country setting. BMJ Open, 8 (4), pp. e019387. | Citations: 4 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: This study describes the availability of core parameters for Early Warning Scores (EWS), evaluates the ability of selected EWS to identify patients at risk of death or other adverse outcome and describes the burden of triggering that front-line staff would experience if implemented. DESIGN: Longitudinal observational cohort study. SETTING: District General Hospital Monaragala. PARTICIPANTS: All adult (age >17 years) admitted patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Existing physiological parameters, adverse outcomes and survival status at hospital discharge were extracted daily from existing paper records for all patients over an 8-month period. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Discrimination for selected aggregate weighted track and trigger systems (AWTTS) was assessed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve.Performance of EWS are further evaluated at time points during admission and across diagnostic groups. The burden of trigger to correctly identify patients who died was evaluated using positive predictive value (PPV). RESULTS: Of the 16 386 patients included, 502 (3.06%) had one or more adverse outcomes (cardiac arrests, unplanned intensive care unit admissions and transfers). Availability of physiological parameters on admission ranged from 90.97% (95% CI 90.52% to 91.40%) for heart rate to 23.94% (95% CI 23.29% to 24.60%) for oxygen saturation. Ability to discriminate death on admission was less than 0.81 (AUROC) for all selected EWS. Performance of the best performing of the EWS varied depending on admission diagnosis, and was diminished at 24 hours prior to event. PPV was low (10.44%). CONCLUSION: There is limited observation reporting in this setting. Indiscriminate application of EWS to all patients admitted to wards in this setting may result in an unnecessary burden of monitoring and may detract from clinician care of sicker patients. Physiological parameters in combination with diagnosis may have a place when applied on admission to help identify patients for whom increased vital sign monitoring may not be beneficial. Further research is required to understand the priorities and cues that influence monitoring of ward patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT02523456.

Vachot-Ganée L, Khim N, Iannello A, Legrand E, Kim S, Eam R, Khean C, Ken M, Ashley E, Tun KM et al. 2018. A novel field-based molecular assay to detect validated artemisinin-resistant k13 mutants. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 175. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Given the risk of artemisinin resistance spreading from the Greater Mekong sub-region, prospective monitoring in sub-Saharan Africa should be expedited. Molecular biology techniques used for monitoring rely on the detection of k13 validated mutants by using PCR and Sanger sequencing approach, usually not available in malaria endemic areas. METHODS: A semi-automated workflow based on the easyMAG® platform and the Argene Solution® (bioMérieux, Marcy l'Etoile, France) as a field-based surveillance tool operable at national level was developed in four steps. Clinical and analytical performances of this tool detecting five of the most frequent and validated k13 mutants (Y493H, I543T, R539T, F446I and C580Y) from dried blood spots (DBS) were compared to the gold standard approach (PCR and Sanger sequencing). RESULTS: By using the ARMS (amplification-refractory mutation system) strategy, the best multiplexing options were found in 3 separate real-time PCR duplexes (IC as internal control/I543T, C580Y/Y493H and F446I/R539T) with limits of detection ranging from 50 (C580Y) to 6.25 parasites/µL (Y493H). In field conditions, using 642 clinical DBS (from symptomatic patients and asymptomatic individuals) collected from Cambodia, Myanmar and Africa (Chad), the overall sensitivity and specificity of the K13 bMx prototype assay developed by bioMérieux were ≥ 90%. Areas under the ROC curves were estimated to be > 0.90 for all k13 mutants in samples from symptomatic patients. CONCLUSION: The K13 ready-to-use bMx prototype assay, considered by the end-users as a user-friendly assay to perform (in shorter time than the K13 reference assay) and easy to interpret, was found to require less budget planning and had fewer logistical constraints. Its excellent performance qualifies the prototype as a reliable screening tool usable in malaria endemic countries recognized to be at risk of emergence or spread of validated k13 mutants. Additional multi-site studies are needed to evaluate the performances of the K13 bMx prototype assay in different epidemiological contexts such as Africa, India, or South America.

Cooper DJ, Plewes K, Grigg MJ, Rajahram GS, Piera KA, William T, Chatfield MD, Yeo TW, Dondorp AM, Anstey NM, Barber BE. 2018. The effect of regularly dosed paracetamol versus no paracetamol on renal function in Plasmodium knowlesi malaria (PACKNOW): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 19 (1), pp. 250. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium knowlesi is the most common cause of human malaria in Malaysia. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a frequent complication. AKI of any cause can have long-term consequences, including increased risk of chronic kidney disease, adverse cardiovascular events and increased mortality. Additional management strategies are therefore needed to reduce the frequency and severity of AKI in malaria. In falciparum malaria, cell-free haemoglobin (CFHb)-mediated oxidative damage contributes to AKI. The inexpensive and widely available drug paracetamol inhibits CFHb-induced lipid peroxidation via reduction of ferryl haem to the less toxic Fe3+ state, and has been shown to reduce oxidative damage and improve renal function in patients with sepsis complicated by haemolysis as well as in falciparum malaria. This study aims to assess the ability of regularly dosed paracetamol to reduce the incidence and severity of AKI in knowlesi malaria by attenuating haemolysis-induced oxidative damage. METHODS: PACKNOW is a two-arm, open-label randomised controlled trial of adjunctive paracetamol versus no paracetamol in patients aged ≥ 5 years with knowlesi malaria, conducted over a 2-year period at four hospital sites in Sabah, Malaysia. The primary endpoint of change in creatinine from enrolment to 72 h will be evaluated by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) using enrolment creatinine as a covariate. Secondary endpoints include longitudinal changes in markers of oxidative stress (plasma F2-isoprostanes and isofurans) and markers of endothelial activation/Weibel-Palade body release (angiopoietin-2, von Willebrand Factor, P-selectin, osteoprotegerin) over 72 h, as well as blood and urine biomarkers of AKI. This study will be powered to detect a difference between the two treatment arms in a clinically relevant population including adults and children with knowlesi malaria of any severity. DISCUSSION: Paracetamol is widely available and has an excellent safety profile; if a renoprotective effect is demonstrated, this trial will support the administration of regularly dosed paracetamol to all patients with knowlesi malaria. The secondary outcomes in this study will provide further insights into the pathophysiology of haemolysis-induced oxidative damage and acute kidney injury in knowlesi malaria and other haemolytic diseases. TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT03056391 . Registered on 12 October 2016.

Watson J, Taylor WRJ, Bancone G, Chu CS, Jittamala P, White NJ. 2018. Implications of current therapeutic restrictions for primaquine and tafenoquine in the radical cure of vivax malaria. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (4), pp. e0006440. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The 8-aminoquinoline antimalarials, the only drugs which prevent relapse of vivax and ovale malaria (radical cure), cause dose-dependent oxidant haemolysis in individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Patients with <30% and <70% of normal G6PD activity are not given standard regimens of primaquine and tafenoquine, respectively. Both drugs are currently considered contraindicated in pregnant and lactating women. METHODS: Quantitative G6PD enzyme activity data from 5198 individuals were used to estimate the proportions of heterozygous females who would be ineligible for treatment at the 30% and 70% activity thresholds, and the relationship with the severity of the deficiency. This was used to construct a simple model relating allele frequency in males to the potential population coverage of tafenoquine and primaquine under current prescribing restrictions. FINDINGS: Independent of G6PD deficiency, the current pregnancy and lactation restrictions will exclude ~13% of females from radical cure treatment. This could be reduced to ~4% if 8-aminoquinolines can be prescribed to women breast-feeding infants older than 1 month. At a 30% activity threshold, approximately 8-19% of G6PD heterozygous women are ineligible for primaquine treatment; at a 70% threshold, 50-70% of heterozygous women and approximately 5% of G6PD wild type individuals are ineligible for tafenoquine treatment. Thus, overall in areas where the G6PDd allele frequency is >10% more than 15% of men and more than 25% of women would be unable to receive tafenoquine. In vivax malaria infected patients these proportions will be lowered by any protective effect against P. vivax conferred by G6PD deficiency. CONCLUSION: If tafenoquine is deployed for radical cure, primaquine will still be needed to obtain high population coverage. Better radical cure antimalarial regimens are needed.

Recht J, Ashley EA, White NJ. 2018. Use of primaquine and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency testing: Divergent policies and practices in malaria endemic countries. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (4), pp. e0006230. | Citations: 7 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Primaquine is the only available antimalarial drug that kills dormant liver stages of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale malarias and therefore prevents their relapse ('radical cure'). It is also the only generally available antimalarial that rapidly sterilises mature P. falciparum gametocytes. Radical cure requires extended courses of primaquine (usually 14 days; total dose 3.5-7 mg/kg), whereas transmissibility reduction in falciparum malaria requires a single dose (formerly 0.75 mg/kg, now a single low dose [SLD] of 0.25 mg/kg is recommended). The main adverse effect of primaquine is dose-dependent haemolysis in glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, the most common human enzymopathy. X-linked mutations conferring varying degrees of G6PD deficiency are prevalent throughout malaria-endemic regions. Phenotypic screening tests usually detect <30% of normal G6PD activity, identifying nearly all male hemizygotes and female homozygotes and some heterozygotes. Unfortunately, G6PD deficiency screening is usually unavailable at point of care, and, as a consequence, radical cure is greatly underused. Both haemolytic risk (determined by the prevalence and severity of G6PD deficiency polymorphisms) and relapse rates vary, so there has been considerable uncertainty in both policies and practices related to G6PD deficiency testing and use of primaquine for radical cure. Review of available information on the prevalence and severity of G6PD variants together with countries' policies for the use of primaquine and G6PD deficiency testing confirms a wide range of practices. There remains lack of consensus on the requirement for G6PD deficiency testing before prescribing primaquine radical cure regimens. Despite substantially lower haemolytic risks, implementation of SLD primaquine as a P. falciparum gametocytocide also varies. In Africa, a few countries have recently adopted SLD primaquine, yet many with areas of low seasonal transmission do not use primaquine as an antimalarial at all. Most countries that recommended the higher 0.75 mg/kg single primaquine dose for falciparum malaria (e.g., most countries in the Americas) have not changed their recommendation. Some vivax malaria-endemic countries where G6PD deficiency testing is generally unavailable have adopted the once-weekly radical cure regimen (0.75 mg/kg/week for 8 weeks), known to be safer in less severe G6PD deficiency variants. There is substantial room for improvement in radical cure policies and practices.

Kojima K, Booth CM, Summermatter K, Bennett A, Heisz M, Blacksell SD, McKinney M. 2018. Risk-based reboot for global lab biosafety. Science, 360 (6386), pp. 260-262. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Read more

Pol S, Fox-Lewis S, Neou L, Parker M, Kingori P, Turner C. 2018. If you come from a well-known organisation, I will trust you: Exploring and understanding the community's attitudes towards healthcare research in Cambodia. PLoS One, 13 (4), pp. e0195251. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To explore Cambodian community members' understanding of and attitudes towards healthcare research. DESIGN: This qualitative study generated data from semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. This study was conducted at a non-governmental paediatric hospital and in nearby villages in Siem Reap province, Cambodia. A total of ten semi-structured interviews and four focus group discussions were conducted, involving 27 participants. Iterative data collection and analysis were performed concurrently. Data were analysed by thematic content analysis and the coding structure was developed using relevant literature. RESULTS: Participants did not have a clear understanding of what activities related to research compared with those for routine healthcare. Key attitudes towards research were responsibility and trust: personal (trust of the researcher directly) and institutional (trust of the institution as a whole). Villagers believe the village headman holds responsibility for community activities, while the village headman believes that this responsibility should be shared across all levels of the government system. CONCLUSIONS: It is essential for researchers to understand the structure and relationship within the community they wish to work with in order to develop trust among community participants. This aids effective communication and understanding among all parties, enabling high quality ethical research to be conducted.

Watson J, Chu CS, Tarning J, White NJ. 2018. Characterizing Blood-Stage Antimalarial Drug MIC Values In Vivo Using Reinfection Patterns. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 62 (7), pp. e02476-17. | Show Abstract | Read more

The MIC is an essential quantitative measure of the asexual blood-stage effect of an antimalarial drug. In areas of high malaria transmission, and thus frequent individual infection, patients who are treated with slowly eliminated antimalarials become reinfected as drug concentrations decline. In the frequent relapse forms of Plasmodium vivax and in Plasmodium ovale malaria, recurrent infection occurs from relapses which begin to emerge from the liver approximately 2 weeks after the primary illness. An important determinant of the interval from starting treatment of a symptomatic infection to the patency of these recurrent infections is the in vivo concentration-response relationship and thus the in vivo MIC. Using mechanistic knowledge of parasite asexual replication and the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the antimalarial drugs, a generative statistical model was derived which relates the concentration-response relationship to time of reinfection patency. This model was used to estimate the in vivo MIC of chloroquine in the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria.

Rajaraman S, Antani SK, Poostchi M, Silamut K, Hossain MA, Maude RJ, Jaeger S, Thoma GR. 2018. Pre-trained convolutional neural networks as feature extractors toward improved malaria parasite detection in thin blood smear images. PeerJ, 6 (4), pp. e4568. | Citations: 4 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a blood disease caused by the Plasmodium parasites transmitted through the bite of female Anopheles mosquito. Microscopists commonly examine thick and thin blood smears to diagnose disease and compute parasitemia. However, their accuracy depends on smear quality and expertise in classifying and counting parasitized and uninfected cells. Such an examination could be arduous for large-scale diagnoses resulting in poor quality. State-of-the-art image-analysis based computer-aided diagnosis (CADx) methods using machine learning (ML) techniques, applied to microscopic images of the smears using hand-engineered features demand expertise in analyzing morphological, textural, and positional variations of the region of interest (ROI). In contrast, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN), a class of deep learning (DL) models promise highly scalable and superior results with end-to-end feature extraction and classification. Automated malaria screening using DL techniques could, therefore, serve as an effective diagnostic aid. In this study, we evaluate the performance of pre-trained CNN based DL models as feature extractors toward classifying parasitized and uninfected cells to aid in improved disease screening. We experimentally determine the optimal model layers for feature extraction from the underlying data. Statistical validation of the results demonstrates the use of pre-trained CNNs as a promising tool for feature extraction for this purpose.

Burns RJL, Douangngeun B, Theppangna W, Khounsy S, Mukaka M, Selleck PW, Hansson E, Wegner MD, Windsor PA, Blacksell SD. 2018. Serosurveillance of Coxiellosis (Q-fever) and Brucellosis in goats in selected provinces of Lao People's Democratic Republic. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (4), pp. e0006411. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Goat raising is a growing industry in Lao People's Democratic Republic, with minimal disease investigation to date, especially zoonoses. This study determined the proportional seropositivity of two zoonotic diseases: Q fever (causative agent Coxiella burnetii) and Brucellosis (Brucella species) in goats across five provinces (Vientiane Capital, Xayaboury, Xiengkhuang, Savannakhet and Attapeu). A total of 1458 goat serum samples were tested using commercial indirect ELISA for both pathogens, plus Rose Bengal agglutination test for Brucellosis. Overall individual seropositivity of C. burnetii was 4.1% and Brucella spp. was 1.4%. A multiple logistic regression model identified that province (Vientiane Capital, p = 0.05), breed (introduced Boer mixed breed, p = 0.006) and age (goats ≥3 years old, p = 0.014) were significant risk factors for C. burnetii seropositivity. The results of the survey indicated that province (Vientiane Capital, p<0.001), breed (introduced Boer mixed breed, p<0.001), production system (commercial, p<0.001), age (adult, p = 0.004), and farm size (large, 0.001) were all significant risk factors seropositivity for Brucella spp. It was concluded that Lao goats have been exposed to both C. burnetii and Brucella spp. however the risk of clinical disease has not yet been determined and there is an urgent need to determine human health risks and economic losses caused by Q fever and Brucellosis.

Khine Zaw Y, Charoenboon N, Haenssgen MJ, Lubell Y. 2018. A Comparison of Patients' Local Conceptions of Illness and Medicines in the Context of C-Reactive Protein Biomarker Testing in Chiang Rai and Yangon. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 98 (6), pp. 1661-1670. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Antibiotic resistance is not solely a medical but also a social problem, influenced partly by patients' treatment-seeking behavior and their conceptions of illness and medicines. Situated within the context of a clinical trial of C-reactive protein (CRP) biomarker testing to reduce antibiotic over-prescription at the primary care level, our study explores and compares the narratives of 58 fever patients in Chiang Rai (Thailand) and Yangon (Myanmar). Our objectives are to 1) compare local conceptions of illness and medicines in relation to health-care seeking and antibiotic demand; and to 2) understand how these conceptions could influence CRP point-of-care testing (POCT) at the primary care level in low- and middle-income country settings. We thereby go beyond the current knowledge about antimicrobial resistance and CRP POCT, which consists primarily of clinical research and quantitative data. We find that CRP POCT in Chiang Rai and Yangon interacted with fever patients' preexisting conceptions of illness and medicines, their treatment-seeking behavior, and their health-care experiences, which has led to new interpretations of the test, potentially unforeseen exclusion patterns, implications for patients' self-assessed illness severity, and an increase in the status of the formal health-care facilities that provide the test. Although we expected that local conceptions of illness diverge from inbuilt assumptions of clinical interventions, we conclude that this mismatch can undermine the intervention and potentially reproduce problematic equity patterns among CRP POCT users and nonusers. As a partial solution, implementers may consider applying the test after clinical examination to validate rather than direct prescription processes.

Chowdhury FR, Jilani MSA, Barai L, Rahman T, Saha MR, Amin MR, Fatema K, Islam KMS, Faiz MA, Dunachie SJ, Dance DAB. 2018. Melioidosis in Bangladesh: A Clinical and Epidemiological Analysis of Culture-Confirmed Cases. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (2), pp. 40-40. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is known to occur in Bangladesh, but there are few reports about the condition in the published international literature. We set out to review all known cases of melioidosis in the country to date, using both retrospective and prospective data. A web-based literature search was conducted to identify all published case reports, original articles and conference abstracts. Cases were also included from a prospective study conducted in 2017. Fifty-one cases were identified between 1961 and 2017. Cases have been reported from sixteen out of the 64 districts of Bangladesh. The median age of the patients at presentation was 45 years (IQR 37⁻52), with a significant male (77%) predominance. Many patients (14/39; 36%) were farmers and 83% had diabetes mellitus. A skin/soft tissue abscess was the most common primary clinical presentation (13/49; 27%), followed by septic arthritis (10/49; 20%), pneumonia, and a deep-seated abscess/organ abscess (7/49; 14%). The major challenges to the diagnosis and treatment of melioidosis in Bangladesh are the lack of resources and the lack of awareness of melioidosis. Capacity development programs are urgently required to define the burden of disease and to tackle the mortality rates.

D'Alessandro U, Hill J, Tarning J, Pell C, Webster J, Gutman J, Sevene E. 2018. Treatment of uncomplicated and severe malaria during pregnancy. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (4), pp. e133-e146. | Citations: 4 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Over the past 10 years, the available evidence on the treatment of malaria during pregnancy has increased substantially. Owing to their relative ease of use, good sensitivity and specificity, histidine rich protein 2 based rapid diagnostic tests are appropriate for symptomatic pregnant women; however, such tests are less appropriate for systematic screening because they will not detect an important proportion of infections among asymptomatic women. The effect of pregnancy on the pharmacokinetics of antimalarial drugs varies greatly between studies and class of antimalarial drugs, emphasising the need for prospective studies in pregnant and non-pregnant women. For the treatment of malaria during the first trimester, international guidelines are being reviewed by WHO. For the second and third trimester of pregnancy, results from several trials have confirmed that artemisinin-based combination treatments are safe and efficacious, although tolerability and efficacy might vary by treatment. It is now essential to translate such evidence into policies and clinical practice that benefit pregnant women in countries where malaria is endemic. Access to parasitological diagnosis or appropriate antimalarial treatment remains low in many countries and regions. Therefore, there is a pressing need for research to identify quality improvement interventions targeting pregnant women and health providers. In addition, efficient and practical systems for pharmacovigilance are needed to further expand knowledge on the safety of antimalarial drugs, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Vercesi V, Pisani L, van Tongeren PSI, Lagrand WK, Leopold SJ, Huson MMA, Henwood PC, Walden A, Smit M, Riviello ED et al. 2018. External confirmation and exploration of the Kigali modification for diagnosing moderate or severe ARDS. Intensive Care Med, 44 (4), pp. 523-524. | Citations: 5 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Dittrich S, Boutthasavong L, Keokhamhoung D, Phuklia W, Craig SB, Tulsiani SM, Burns M-A, Weier SL, Dance DAB, Davong V et al. 2018. A Prospective Hospital Study to Evaluate the Diagnostic Accuracy of Rapid Diagnostic Tests for the Early Detection of Leptospirosis in Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 98 (4), pp. 1056-1060. | Show Abstract | Read more

Leptospirosis is a globally important cause of acute febrile illness, and a common cause of non-malarial fever in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Simple rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are needed to enable health-care workers, particularly in low resource settings, to diagnose leptospirosis early and give timely targeted treatment. This study compared four commercially available RDTs to detect human IgM against Leptospira spp. in a head-to-head prospective evaluation in Mahosot Hospital, Lao PDR. Patients with an acute febrile illness consistent with leptospirosis (N = 695) were included in the study during the 2014 rainy season. Samples were tested with four RDTs: ("Test-it" [Life Assay, Cape Town, South Africa; N = 418]; "Leptorapide" [Linnodee, Ballyclare, Northern Ireland; N = 492]; "Dual Path Platform" [DPP] [Chembio, Medford, NY; N = 530]; and "SD-IgM" [Standard Diagnostics, Yongin, South Korea; N = 481]). Diagnostic performance characteristics were calculated and compared with a composite reference standard combining polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (rrs), microscopic agglutination tests (MATs), and culture. Of all patients investigated, 39/695 (5.6%) were positive by culture, PCR, or MAT. The sensitivity and specificity of the RDTs ranged greatly from 17.9% to 63.6% and 62.1% to 96.8%, respectively. None of the investigated RDTs reached a sensitivity or specificity of > 90% for detecting Leptospira infections on admission. In conclusion, our investigation highlights the challenges associated with Leptospira diagnostics, particularly in populations with multiple exposures. These findings emphasize the need for extensive prospective evaluations in multiple endemic settings to establish the value of rapid tools for diagnosing fevers to allow targeting of antibiotics.

Kingston HW, Hossain M, Leopold S, Anantatat T, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Sinha I, Plewes K, Maude RJ, Chowdhury MAH, Paul S et al. 2018. Rickettsial Illnesses as Important Causes of Febrile Illness in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Emerg Infect Dis, 24 (4), pp. 638-645. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

We conducted a yearlong prospective study of febrile patients admitted to a tertiary referral hospital in Chittagong, Bangladesh, to assess the proportion of patients with rickettsial illnesses and identify the causative pathogens, strain genotypes, and associated seasonality patterns. We diagnosed scrub typhus in 16.8% (70/416) and murine typhus in 5.8% (24/416) of patients; 2 patients had infections attributable to undifferentiated Rickettsia spp. and 2 had DNA sequence-confirmed R. felis infection. Orientia tsutsugamushi genotypes included Karp, Gilliam, Kato, and TA763-like strains, with a prominence of Karp-like strains. Scrub typhus admissions peaked in a biphasic pattern before and after the rainy season, whereas murine typhus more frequently occurred before the rainy season. Death occurred in 4% (18/416) of cases; case-fatality rates were 4% each for scrub typhus (3/70) and murine typhus (1/28). Overall, 23.1% (96/416) of patients had evidence of treatable rickettsial illnesses, providing important evidence toward optimizing empirical treatment strategies.

Haniffa R, Silva APD, Beane A, Sigera PC, Athapattu PL, Rathnayake S, Jayasinghe KSA, Keizer NFD, Dondorp AM. 2018. To: The Epimed Monitor ICU Database®: a cloud-based national registry for adult intensive care unit patients in Brazil. Rev Bras Ter Intensiva, 30 (2), pp. 251-252. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Read more

Haenssgen MJ, Charoenboon N, Zanello G, Mayxay M, Reed-Tsochas F, Jones COH, Kosaikanont R, Praphattong P, Manohan P, Lubell Y et al. 2018. Antibiotics and activity spaces: protocol of an exploratory study of behaviour, marginalisation and knowledge diffusion. BMJ Glob Health, 3 (2), pp. e000621. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health priority. Leading UK and global strategy papers to fight AMR recognise its social and behavioural dimensions, but current policy responses to improve the popular use of antimicrobials (eg, antibiotics) are limited to education and awareness-raising campaigns. In response to conceptual, methodological and empirical weaknesses of this approach, we study people's antibiotic-related health behaviour through three research questions.RQ1: What are the manifestations and determinants of problematic antibiotic use in patients' healthcare-seeking pathways?RQ2: Will people's exposure to antibiotic awareness activities entail changed behaviours that diffuse or dissipate within a network of competing healthcare practices?RQ3: Which proxy indicators facilitate the detection of problematic antibiotic behaviours across and within communities? Methods: We apply an interdisciplinary analytical framework that draws on the public health, medical anthropology, sociology and development economics literature. Our research involves social surveys of treatment-seeking behaviour among rural dwellers in northern Thailand (Chiang Rai) and southern Lao PDR (Salavan). We sample approximately 4800 adults to produce district-level representative and social network data. Additional 60 cognitive interviews facilitate survey instrument development and data interpretation. Our survey data analysis techniques include event sequence analysis (RQ1), multilevel regression (RQ1-3), social network analysis (RQ2) and latent class analysis (RQ3). Discussion: Social research in AMR is nascent, but our unprecedentedly detailed data on microlevel treatment-seeking behaviour can contribute an understanding of behaviour beyond awareness and free choice, highlighting, for example, decision-making constraints, problems of marginalisation and lacking access to healthcare and competing ideas about desirable behaviour. Trial registration number: NCT03241316; Pre-results.

Siengsanan-Lamont J, Blacksell SD. 2018. A Review of Laboratory-Acquired Infections in the Asia-Pacific: Understanding Risk and the Need for Improved Biosafety for Veterinary and Zoonotic Diseases. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (2), pp. 36-36. | Show Abstract | Read more

A rapid review was performed to determine (1) the number and causes of reported laboratory-acquired infections (LAI) in the Asia-Pacific region; (2) their significance and threat to the community; (3) the primary risk factors associated with LAIs; (4) the consequences in the event of a LAI or pathogen escape; and (5) to make general recommendations regarding biosafety practices for diagnosis and research in the Asia-Pacific region. A search for LAI and zoonoses in the Asia-Pacific region using online search engines revealed a relatively low number of reports. Only 27 LAI reports were published between 1982 and 2016. The most common pathogens associated with LAIs were dengue virus, Arthroderma spp., Brucella spp., Mycobacterium spp., Rickettsia spp., and Shigella spp. Seventy-eight percent (21 out of 27 LAI reports) occurred in high-income countries (i.e., Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan) where laboratories were likely to comply with international biosafety standards. Two upper-middle income countries (China (2), and Malaysia (2)) and one lower-middle income country (India (2)) reported LAI incidents. The majority of the reports (fifty-two percent (14/27)) of LAIs occurred in research laboratories. Five LAI reports were from clinical or diagnostic laboratories that are considered at the frontier for zoonotic disease detection. Governments and laboratories in the Asia-Pacific region should be encouraged to report LAI cases as it provides a useful tool to monitor unintended release of zoonotic pathogens and to further improve laboratory biosafety. Non-reporting of LAI events could pose a risk of disease transmission from infected laboratory staff to communities and the environment. The international community has an important and continuing role to play in supporting laboratories in the Asia-Pacific region to ensure that they maintain the safe working environment for the staff and their families, and the wider community.

Saraswati K, Day NPJ, Mukaka M, Blacksell SD. 2018. Scrub typhus point-of-care testing: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (3), pp. e0006330. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Diagnosing scrub typhus clinically is difficult, hence laboratory tests play a very important role in diagnosis. As performing sophisticated laboratory tests in resource-limited settings is not feasible, accurate point-of-care testing (POCT) for scrub typhus diagnosis would be invaluable for patient diagnosis and management. Here we summarise the existing evidence on the accuracy of scrub typhus POCTs to inform clinical practitioners in resource-limited settings of their diagnostic value. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Studies on POCTs which can be feasibly deployed in primary health care or outpatient settings were included. Thirty-one studies were identified through PubMed and manual searches of reference lists. The quality of the studies was assessed with the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2 (QUADAS-2). About half (n = 14/31) of the included studies were of moderate quality. Meta-analysis showed the pooled sensitivity and specificity of commercially available immunochromatographic tests (ICTs) were 66.0% (95% CI 0.37-0.86) and 92.0% (95% CI 0.83-0.97), respectively. There was a significant and high degree of heterogeneity between the studies (I2 value = 97.48%, 95% CI 96.71-98.24 for sensitivity and I2 value = 98.17%, 95% CI 97.67-98.67 for specificity). Significant heterogeneity was observed for total number of samples between studies (p = 0.01), study design (whether using case-control design or not, p = 0.01), blinding during index test interpretation (p = 0.02), and QUADAS-2 score (p = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: There was significant heterogeneity between the scrub typhus POCT diagnostic accuracy studies examined. Overall, the commercially available scrub typhus ICTs demonstrated better performance when 'ruling in' the diagnosis. There is a need for standardised methods and reporting of diagnostic accuracy to decrease between-study heterogeneity and increase comparability among study results, as well as development of an affordable and accurate antigen-based POCT to tackle the inherent weaknesses associated with serological testing.

Gilder ME, Hanpithakphong W, Hoglund RM, Tarning J, Win HH, Hilda N, Chu CS, Bancone G, Carrara VI, Singhasivanon P et al. 2018. Primaquine Pharmacokinetics in Lactating Women and Breastfed Infant Exposures. Clin Infect Dis, 67 (7), pp. 1000-1007. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Primaquine is the only drug providing radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria. It is not recommended for breastfeeding women as it causes hemolysis in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-deficient individuals, and breast milk excretion and thus infant exposure are not known. Methods: Healthy G6PD-normal breastfeeding women with previous P. vivax infection and their healthy G6PD-normal infants between 28 days and 2 years old were enrolled. Mothers took primaquine 0.5 mg/kg/day for 14 days. Primaquine and carboxyprimaquine concentrations were measured in maternal venous plasma, capillary plasma, and breast milk samples and infant capillary plasma samples taken on days 0, 3, 7, and 13. Results: In 20 mother-infant pairs, primaquine concentrations were below measurement thresholds in all but 1 infant capillary plasma sample (that contained primaquine 2.6 ng/mL), and carboxyprimaquine was likewise unmeasurable in the majority of infant samples (maximum value 25.8 ng/mL). The estimated primaquine dose received by infants, based on measured breast milk levels, was 2.98 µg/kg/day (ie, ~0.6% of a hypothetical infant daily dose of 0.5 mg/kg). There was no evidence of drug-related hemolysis in the infants. Maternal levels were comparable to levels in nonlactating patients, and adverse events in mothers were mild. Conclusions: The concentrations of primaquine in breast milk are very low and therefore very unlikely to cause adverse effects in the breastfeeding infant. Primaquine should not be withheld from mothers breastfeeding infants or young children. More information is needed in neonates. Clinical Trials Registration: NCT01780753.

Sriboonvorakul N, Ghose A, Hassan MMU, Hossain MA, Faiz MA, Pukrittayakamee S, Chotivanich K, Sukthana Y, Leopold SJ, Plewes K et al. 2018. Acidosis and acute kidney injury in severe malaria. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 128. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In severe falciparum malaria metabolic acidosis and acute kidney injury (AKI) are independent predictors of a fatal outcome in all age groups. The relationship between plasma acids, urine acids and renal function was investigated in adult patients with acute falciparum malaria. METHODS: Plasma and urinary acids which previously showed increased concentrations in proportion to disease severity in patients with severe falciparum malaria were quantified. Patients with uncomplicated malaria, sepsis and healthy volunteers served as comparator groups. Multiple regression and multivariate analysis were used to assess the relationship between organic acid concentrations and clinical syndromes, in particular AKI. RESULTS: Patients with severe malaria (n = 90), uncomplicated malaria (n = 94), non-malaria sepsis (n = 19), and healthy volunteers (n = 61) were included. Univariate analysis showed that both plasma and creatinine-adjusted urine concentrations of p-hydroxyphenyllactic acid (pHPLA) were higher in severe malaria patients with AKI (p < 0.001). Multiple regression analysis, including plasma or creatinine-adjusted urinary acids, and PfHRP2 as parasite biomass marker as independent variables, showed that pHPLA was independently associated with plasma creatinine (β = 0.827) and urine creatinine (β = 0.226). Principal component analysis, including four plasma acids and seven urinary acids separated a group of patients with AKI, which was mainly driven by pHPLA concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: Both plasma and urine concentrations of pHPLA closely correlate with AKI in patients with severe falciparum malaria. Further studies will need to assess the potential nephrotoxic properties of pHPLA.

Bharucha T, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Vongsouvath M, Vongsouvath M, Davong V, Panyanouvong P, Piorkowski G, Garson JA, Newton PN, de Lamballerie X, Dubot-Pérès A. 2018. Development of an improved RT-qPCR Assay for detection of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) RNA including a systematic review and comprehensive comparison with published methods. PLoS One, 13 (3), pp. e0194412. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a major cause of encephalitis in Asia, and the commonest cause of mosquito-borne encephalitis worldwide. Detection of JEV RNA remains challenging due to the characteristic brief and low viraemia, with 0-25% of patients positive, and the mainstay of diagnosis remains detection of anti-JEV IgM antibody. METHODS: We performed a systematic review of published RT-PCR protocols, and evaluated them in silico and in vitro alongside new primers and probes designed using a multiple genome alignment of all JEV strains >9,000nt from GenBank, downloaded from the NCBI website (November 2016). The new assays included pan-genotype and genotype specific assays targeting genotypes 1 and 3. RESULTS: Ten RT-qPCR assays were compared, a pre-existing in-house assay, three published assays and six newly designed assays, using serial RNA dilutions. We selected three assays, one published and two novel assays, with the lowest limit of detection (LOD) for further optimisation and validation. One of the novel assays, detecting NS2A, showed the best results, with LOD approximately 4 copies/ reaction, and no cross-reaction on testing closely related viruses in the JEV serocomplex, West Nile Virus and St. Louis Virus. The optimised assays were validated in consecutive patients with central nervous system infections admitted to hospitals in Laos, testing paired CSF and serum samples. CONCLUSIONS: We succeeded in developing a JEV specific RT-qPCR assay with at least 1 log10 improved sensitivity as compared to existing assays. Further evaluation is required, field-testing the assay in a larger group of patients.

Shrestha P, Roberts T, Homsana A, Myat TO, Crump JA, Lubell Y, Newton PN. 2018. Febrile illness in Asia: gaps in epidemiology, diagnosis and management for informing health policy. Clin Microbiol Infect, 24 (8), pp. 815-826. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence is becoming available on the aetiology and management of fevers in Asia; the importance of these fevers has increased with the decline in the incidence of malaria. AIMS: To conduct a narrative review of the epidemiology and management of fevers in South and South-East Asia and to highlight gaps in our knowledge that impair evidence-based health policy decisions. SOURCES: A narrative review of papers published since 2012 on developments in fever epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment in South and South-East Asia. The papers that the authors felt were pivotal, from their personal perspectives, are discussed. CONTENT: We identified 100 studies. Among the 30 studies (30%)-including both children and adults-that investigated three or more pathogens, the most frequently reported fever aetiology was dengue (reported by 15, 50%), followed by leptospirosis (eight, 27%), scrub typhus (seven, 23%) and Salmonella serovar Typhi (six, 20%). Among four studies investigating three or more pathogens in children, dengue and Staphylococcus aureus were the most frequent, followed by non-typhoidal Salmonella spp, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Salmonella serovar Typhi, and Orientia tsutsugamushi. Increased awareness is needed that rickettsial pathogens are common but do not respond to cephalosporins, and that alternative therapies, such as tetracyclines, are required. IMPLICATIONS: Many key gaps remain, and consensus guidelines for study design are needed to aid comparative understanding of the epidemiology of fevers. More investment in developing accurate and affordable diagnostic tests for rural Asia and independent evaluation of those already on the market are needed. Treatment algorithms, including simple biomarker assays, appropriate for empirical therapy of fevers in different areas of rural Asia should be a major aim of fever research. Enhanced antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance and openly accessible databases of geography-specific AMR data would inform policy on empirical and specific therapy. More investment in innovative strategies facilitating infectious disease surveillance in remote rural communities would be an important component of poverty reduction and improving public health.

Pieris L, Sigera PC, De Silva AP, Munasinghe S, Rashan A, Athapattu PL, Jayasinghe KSA, Samarasinghe K, Beane A, Dondorp AM, Haniffa R. 2018. Experiences of ICU survivors in a low middle income country- a multicenter study. BMC Anesthesiol, 18 (1), pp. 30. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Stressful patient experiences during the intensive care unit (ICU) stay is associated with reduced satisfaction in High Income Countries (HICs) but has not been explored in Lower and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). This study describes the recalled experiences, stress and satisfaction as perceived by survivors of ICUs in a LMIC. METHODS: This follow-up study was carried out in 32 state ICUs in Sri Lanka between July and December 2015.ICU survivors' experiences, stress factors encountered and level of satisfaction were collected 30 days after ICU discharge by a telephone questionnaire adapted from Granja and Wright. RESULTS: Of 1665 eligible ICU survivors, 23.3% died after ICU discharge, 49.1% were uncontactable and 438 (26.3%) patients were included in the study. Whilst 78.1% (n = 349) of patients remembered their admission to the hospital, only 42.3% (n = 189) could recall their admission to the ICU. The most frequently reported stressful experiences were: being bedridden (34.2%), pain (34.0%), general discomfort (31.7%), daily needle punctures (32.9%), family worries (33.6%), fear of dying and uncertainty in the future (25.8%). The majority of patients (376, 84.12%) found the atmosphere of the ICU to be friendly and calm. Overall, the patients found the level of health care received in the ICU to be "very satisfactory" (93.8%, n = 411) with none of the survivors stating they were either "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied". CONCLUSION: In common with HIC, survivors were very satisfied with their ICU care. In contrast to HIC settings, specific ICU experiences were frequently not recalled, but those remembered were reported as relatively stress-free. Stressful experiences, in common with HIC, were most frequently related to uncertainty about the future, dependency, family, and economic concerns.

Keene CM, Dondorp A, Crawley J, Ohuma EO, Mukaka M. 2018. A Competing-Risk Approach for Modeling Length of Stay in Severe Malaria Patients in South-East Asia and the Implications for Planning of Hospital Services. Clin Infect Dis, 67 (7), pp. 1053-1062. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Management of severe malaria with limited resources requires comprehensive planning. Expected length of stay (LOS) and the factors influencing it are useful in the planning and optimisation of service delivery. Methods: A secondary, competing-risk approach to survival analysis was performed for 1217 adult severe malaria patients from the South-East Asia Quinine Artesunate Malaria Trial. Results: Twenty percent of patients died; 95.4% within 7 days compared to 70.3% of those who were discharged. Median time to discharge was 6 days. Compared to quinine, artesunate increased discharge incidence (subdistribution-Hazard ratio, 1.24; [95% confidence interval 1.09-1.40]; P = .001) and decreased incidence of death (0.60; [0.46-0.80]; P < .001). Low Glasgow coma scale (discharge, 1.08 [1.06-1.11], P < .001; death, 0.85 [0.82-0.89], P < .001), high blood urea-nitrogen (discharge, 0.99 [0.99-0.995], P < .001; death, 1.00 [1.00-1.01], P = .012), acidotic base-excess (discharge, 1.05 [1.03-1.06], P < .001; death, 0.90 [0.88-0.93], P < .001), and development of shock (discharge, 0.25 [0.13-0.47], P < .001; death, 2.14 [1.46-3.12], P < .001), or coma (discharge, 0.46 [0.32-0.65], P < .001; death, 2.30 [1.58-3.36], P < .001) decreased cumulative incidence of discharge and increased incidence of death. Conventional Kaplan-Meier survival analysis overestimated cumulative incidence compared to competing-risk model. Conclusions: Clinical factors on admission and during hospitalisation influence LOS in severe malaria, presenting targets to improve health and service efficiency. Artesunate has the potential to increase LOS, which should be accounted for when planning services. In-hospital death is a competing risk for discharge; an important consideration in LOS models to reduce overestimation of risk and misrepresentation of associations.

Rocamora F, Zhu L, Liong KY, Dondorp A, Miotto O, Mok S, Bozdech Z. 2018. Oxidative stress and protein damage responses mediate artemisinin resistance in malaria parasites. PLoS Pathog, 14 (3), pp. e1006930. | Citations: 9 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Due to their remarkable parasitocidal activity, artemisinins represent the key components of first-line therapies against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. However, the decline in efficacy of artemisinin-based drugs jeopardizes global efforts to control and ultimately eradicate the disease. To better understand the resistance phenotype, artemisinin-resistant parasite lines were derived from two clones of the 3D7 strain of P. falciparum using a selection regimen that mimics how parasites interact with the drug within patients. This long term in vitro selection induced profound stage-specific resistance to artemisinin and its relative compounds. Chemosensitivity and transcriptional profiling of artemisinin-resistant parasites indicate that enhanced adaptive responses against oxidative stress and protein damage are associated with decreased artemisinin susceptibility. This corroborates our previous findings implicating these cellular functions in artemisinin resistance in natural infections. Genomic characterization of the two derived parasite lines revealed a spectrum of sequence and copy number polymorphisms that could play a role in regulating artemisinin response, but did not include mutations in pfk13, the main marker of artemisinin resistance in Southeast Asia. Taken together, here we present a functional in vitro model of artemisinin resistance that is underlined by a new set of genetic polymorphisms as potential genetic markers.

Mouillé B, Dauphin G, Wiersma L, Blacksell SD, Claes F, Kalpravidh W, Kabore Y, Hietala S. 2018. A Tool for Assessment of Animal Health Laboratory Safety and Biosecurity: The Safety Module of the Food and Agriculture Organization's Laboratory Mapping Tool. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. 33-33. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Laboratory Management Tool (LMT) is a standardized spreadsheet-based assessment tool developed to help support national, regional, and global efforts to maintain an effective network of animal health and veterinary public health laboratories. The safety and biosecurity module of the LMT (LMT-S) includes 98 measures covering administrative, operational, engineering, and personal protective equipment practices used to provide laboratory safety and biosecurity. Performance aspects of laboratory infrastructure and technical compliance considered fundamental for ensuring that a laboratory is able to appropriately function in a safe and biosecure manner are systematically queried and scored for compliance on a four-point scale providing for a semi-quantitative assessment. Data collected is used to generate graphs and tables mapping levels of compliance with international standards and good practices, as well as for documenting progress over time. The LMT-S was employed by trained auditors in 34 laboratories located in 19 countries between 2015 and 2017. The tool is intended to help standardize animal health laboratory assessments, document compliance with recognized laboratory safety and biosecurity measures, serve as a self-help and training tool, and assist global laboratory development efforts by providing an accurate measurement of laboratory safety and biosecurity at local, national, and regional levels.

Phakhounthong K, Chaovalit P, Jittamala P, Blacksell SD, Carter MJ, Turner P, Chheng K, Sona S, Kumar V, Day NPJ et al. 2018. Predicting the severity of dengue fever in children on admission based on clinical features and laboratory indicators: application of classification tree analysis. BMC Pediatr, 18 (1), pp. 109. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dengue fever is a re-emerging viral disease commonly occurring in tropical and subtropical areas. The clinical features and abnormal laboratory test results of dengue infection are similar to those of other febrile illnesses; hence, its accurate and timely diagnosis for providing appropriate treatment is difficult. Delayed diagnosis may be associated with inappropriate treatment and higher risk of death. Early and correct diagnosis can help improve case management and optimise the use of resources such as hospital staff, beds, and intensive care equipment. The goal of this study was to develop a predictive model to characterise dengue severity based on early clinical and laboratory indicators using data mining and statistical tools. METHODS: We retrieved data from a study of febrile illness in children at Angkor Hospital for Children, Cambodia. Of 1225 febrile episodes recorded, 198 patients were confirmed to have dengue. A classification and regression tree (CART) was used to construct a predictive decision tree for severe dengue, while logistic regression analysis was used to independently quantify the significance of each parameter in the decision tree. RESULTS: A decision tree algorithm using haematocrit, Glasgow Coma Score, urine protein, creatinine, and platelet count predicted severe dengue with a sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 60.5%, 65% and 64.1%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The decision tree we describe, using five simple clinical and laboratory indicators, can be used to predict severe cases of dengue among paediatric patients on admission. This algorithm is potentially useful for guiding a patient-monitoring plan and outpatient management of fever in resource-poor settings.

Tauran PM, Wahyunie S, Saad F, Dahesihdewi A, Graciella M, Muhammad M, Lestari DC, Aryati A, Parwati I, Loho T et al. 2018. Emergence of Melioidosis in Indonesia and Today's Challenges. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. 32-32. | Show Abstract | Read more

A recent modeling study estimated that there could be as many as 20,000 human melioidosis cases per year in Indonesia, with around 10,000 potential deaths annually. Nonetheless, the true burden of melioidosis in Indonesia is still unknown. The Indonesia Melioidosis Network was formed during the first melioidosis workshop in 2017. Here, we reviewed 101 melioidosis cases (99 human and two animal cases) previously reported and described an additional 45 human melioidosis cases. All 146 culture-confirmed cases were found in Sumatra (n = 15), Java (n = 104), Kalimantan (n = 15), Sulawesi (n = 11) and Nusa Tenggara (n = 1). Misidentification of Burkholderiapseudomallei was not uncommon, and most cases were only recently identified. We also evaluated clinical manifestations and outcome of recent culture-confirmed cases between 2012 and 2017 (n = 42). Overall, 15 (36%) cases were children (age <15 years) and 27 (64%) were adults (age ≥15 years). The overall mortality was 43% (18/42). We conducted a survey and found that 57% (327/548) of healthcare workers had never heard of melioidosis. In conclusion, melioidosis is endemic throughout Indonesia and associated with high mortality. We propose that top priorities are increasing awareness of melioidosis amongst all healthcare workers, increasing the use of bacterial culture, and ensuring accurate identification of B. pseudomalleiand diagnosis of melioidosis.

Plewes K, Kingston HWF, Ghose A, Wattanakul T, Hassan MMU, Haider MS, Dutta PK, Islam MA, Alam S, Jahangir SM et al. 2018. Acetaminophen as a Renoprotective Adjunctive Treatment in Patients With Severe and Moderately Severe Falciparum Malaria: A Randomized, Controlled, Open-Label Trial. Clin Infect Dis, 67 (7), pp. 991-999. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Acute kidney injury independently predicts mortality in falciparum malaria. It is unknown whether acetaminophen's capacity to inhibit plasma hemoglobin-mediated oxidation is renoprotective in severe malaria. Methods: This phase 2, open-label, randomized controlled trial conducted at two hospitals in Bangladesh assessed effects on renal function, safety, pharmacokinetic (PK) properties and pharmacodynamic (PD) effects of acetaminophen. Febrile patients (>12 years) with severe falciparum malaria were randomly assigned to receive acetaminophen (1 g 6-hourly for 72 hours) or no acetaminophen, in addition to intravenous artesunate. Primary outcome was the proportional change in creatinine after 72 hours stratified by median plasma hemoglobin. Results: Between 2012 and 2014, 62 patients were randomly assigned to receive acetaminophen (n = 31) or no acetaminophen (n = 31). Median (interquartile range) reduction in creatinine after 72 hours was 23% (37% to 18%) in patients assigned to acetaminophen, versus 14% (29% to 0%) in patients assigned to no acetaminophen (P = .043). This difference in reduction was 37% (48% to 22%) versus 14% (30% to -71%) in patients with hemoglobin ≥45000 ng/mL (P = .010). The proportion with progressing kidney injury was higher among controls (subdistribution hazard ratio, 3.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 8.5; P = .034). PK-PD analyses showed that higher exposure to acetaminophen increased the probability of creatinine improvement. No patient fulfilled Hy's law for hepatotoxicity. Conclusions: In this proof-of-principle study, acetaminophen showed renoprotection without evidence of safety concerns in patients with severe falciparum malaria, particularly in those with prominent intravascular hemolysis. Clinical Trials Registration: NCT01641289.

Dembele L, Gupta DK, Lim MY-X, Ang X, Selva JJ, Chotivanich K, Nguon C, Dondorp AM, Bonamy GMC, Diagana TT, Bifani P. 2018. Imidazolopiperazines Kill both Rings and Dormant Rings in Wild-Type and K13 Artemisinin-Resistant Plasmodium falciparum In Vitro. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 62 (5), | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin (ART) resistance has spread through Southeast Asia, posing a serious threat to the control and elimination of malaria. ART resistance has been associated with mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum kelch-13 (Pfk13) propeller domain. Phenotypically, ART resistance is defined as delayed parasite clearance in patients due to the reduced susceptibility of early ring-stage parasites to the active metabolite of ART dihydroartemisinin (DHA). Early rings can enter a state of quiescence upon DHA exposure and resume growth in its absence. These quiescent rings are referred to as dormant rings or DHA-pretreated rings (here called dormant rings). The imidazolopiperazines (IPZ) are a novel class of antimalarial drugs that have demonstrated efficacy in early clinical trials. Here, we characterized the stage of action of the IPZ GNF179 and evaluated its activity against rings and dormant rings in wild-type and ART-resistant parasites. Unlike DHA, GNF179 does not induce dormancy. We show that GNF179 is more rapidly cidal against schizonts than against ring and trophozoite stages. However, with 12 h of exposure, the compound effectively kills rings and dormant rings of both susceptible and ART-resistant parasites within 72 h. We further demonstrate that in combination with ART, GNF179 effectively prevents recrudescence of dormant rings, including those bearing pfk13 propeller mutations.

Sunyakumthorn P, Somponpun SJ, Im-Erbsin R, Anantatat T, Jenjaroen K, Dunachie SJ, Lombardini ED, Burke RL, Blacksell SD, Jones JW et al. 2018. Characterization of the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) scrub typhus model: Susceptibility to intradermal challenge with the human pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi Karp. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (3), pp. e0006305. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus is an important endemic disease in tropical Asia caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi for which no effective broadly protective vaccine is available. The successful evaluation of vaccine candidates requires well-characterized animal models and a better understanding of the immune response against O. tsutsugamushi. While many animal species have been used to study host immunity and vaccine responses in scrub typhus, only limited data exists in non-human primate (NHP) models. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: In this study we evaluated a NHP scrub typhus disease model based on intradermal inoculation of O. tsutsugamushi Karp strain in rhesus macaques (n = 7). After an intradermal inoculation with 106 murine LD50 of O. tsutsugamushi at the anterior thigh (n = 4) or mock inoculum (n = 3), a series of time course investigations involving hematological, biochemical, molecular and immunological assays were performed, until day 28, when tissues were collected for pathology and immunohistochemistry. In all NHPs with O. tsutsugamushi inoculation, but not with mock inoculation, the development of a classic eschar with central necrosis, regional lymphadenopathy, and elevation of body temperature was observed on days 7-21 post inoculation (pi); bacteremia was detected by qPCR on days 6-18 pi; and alteration of liver enzyme function and increase of white blood cells on day 14 pi. Immune assays demonstrated raised serum levels of soluble cell adhesion molecules, anti-O. tsutsugamushi-specific antibody responses (IgM and IgG) and pathogen-specific cell-mediated immune responses in inoculated macaques. The qPCR assays detected O. tsutsugamushi in eschar, spleen, draining and non-draining lymph nodes, and immuno-double staining demonstrated intracellular O. tsutsugamushi in antigen presenting cells of eschars and lymph nodes. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These data show the potential of using rhesus macaques as a scrub typhus model, for evaluation of correlates of protection in both natural and vaccine induced immunity, and support the evaluation of future vaccine candidates against scrub typhus.

Tripura R, Peto TJ, Chea N, Chan D, Mukaka M, Sirithiranont P, Dhorda M, Promnarate C, Imwong M, von Seidlein L et al. 2018. A Controlled Trial of Mass Drug Administration to Interrupt Transmission of Multidrug-Resistant Falciparum Malaria in Cambodian Villages. Clin Infect Dis, 67 (6), pp. 817-826. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The increase in multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia suggests a need for acceleration of malaria elimination. We evaluated the effectiveness and safety of mass drug administration (MDA) to interrupt malaria transmission. Methods: Four malaria-endemic villages in western Cambodia were randomized to 3 rounds of MDA (a 3-day course of dihydroartemisinin with piperaquine-phosphate), administered either early in or at the end of the study period. Comprehensive malaria treatment records were collected during 2014-2017. Subclinical parasite prevalence was estimated by ultrasensitive quantitative polymerase chain reaction quarterly over 12 months. Results: MDA coverage with at least 1 complete round was 88% (1999/2268), ≥2 rounds 73% (1645/2268), and all 3 rounds 58% (1310/2268). Plasmodium falciparum incidence in intervention and control villages was similar over the 12 months prior to the study: 39 per 1000 person-years (PY) vs 45 per 1000 PY (P = .50). The primary outcome, P. falciparum incidence in the 12 months after MDA, was lower in intervention villages (1.5/1000 PY vs 37.1/1000 PY; incidence rate ratio, 24.5 [95% confidence interval], 3.4-177; P = .002). Following MDA in 2016, there were no clinical falciparum malaria cases over 12 months (0/2044 PY) in all 4 villages. Plasmodium vivax prevalence decreased markedly in intervention villages following MDA but returned to approximately half the baseline prevalence by 12 months. No severe adverse events were attributed to treatment. Conclusions: Mass drug administrations achieved high coverage, were safe, and associated with the absence of clinical P. falciparum cases for at least 1 year. Clinical Trials Registration: NCT01872702.

Cheah PY, Steinkamp N, von Seidlein L, Price RN. 2018. The ethics of using placebo in randomised controlled trials: a case study of a Plasmodium vivax antirelapse trial. BMC Med Ethics, 19 (1), pp. 19. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The use of placebos in randomised controlled trials is a subject of considerable ethical debate. In this paper we present a set of considerations to evaluate the ethics of placebo controlled trials that includes: social value of the study; need for a randomised controlled trial and placebo; standards of care; risks of harm due to administration of placebo and the harm benefit balance; clinical equipoise; and double standards. We illustrate the application of these considerations using a case study of a large ongoing multicentre, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, randomised trial to determine primaquine anti-relapse efficacy in vivax malaria. MAIN BODY: There is an urgent need for primaquine anti-relapse studies in order to rationalise the management of a potentially fatal disease. An ethical justification for the use of the placebo arm is provided on the grounds that the actual current applied standard of care in most endemic places does not include primaquine. It has also been argued that there is clinical equipoise among the primaquine study arms and that the risk of harms of being in the placebo arm is the risk of having relapse, which is no more than not being included in the trial, and that there are no double standards. CONCLUSION: Based on our set of considerations, we conclude that a placebo arm is not only justified but imperative in this study. We propose that similar considerations should be prospectively applied to other placebo controlled trials and observational control arms where no treatment is offered.

Salgado Lynn M, William T, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintaworn S, Thaipadungpanit J, Lee MH, Jalius C, Daszak P, Goossens B, Hughes T, Blacksell SD. 2018. Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis in a Wildlife Researcher in Sabah, Malaysia: A Case Study. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. 29-29. | Show Abstract | Read more

We present evidence for a case of spotted fever rickettsiosis with severe complications in a young adult male. Although spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFGR) have been reported as the most prevalent cause of rickettsiosis in rural areas of Sabah, Malaysia since the 1980s, this is the first detailed case report of suspected SFGR in the state. Current data on the prevalence, type, and thorough clinical reports on complications of SFGR and other rickettsioses in Sabah is lacking and required to raise the awareness of such diseases. There is a need to emphasize the screening of rickettsioses to medical personnel and to encourage the use of appropriate antibiotics as early treatment for nonspecific febrile illnesses in this region. Suspected rickettsioses need to be considered as one of the differential diagnoses for patients presenting with acute febrile illness for laboratory investigations, and early treatment instituted.

König A, Kajeechiwa L, Thwin MM, Nosten S, Tun SW, Tangseefa D, Nosten F. 2018. Community engagement for malaria elimination in contested areas of the Karen/Kayin State, Myanmar: A case study on the Malaria Elimination Task Force Wellcome Open Research, 3 pp. 22-22. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Ashley EA, Recht J, Chua A, Dance D, Dhorda M, Thomas NV, Ranganathan N, Turner P, Guerin PJ, White NJ, Day NP. 2018. An inventory of supranational antimicrobial resistance surveillance networks involving low- and middle-income countries since 2000. J Antimicrob Chemother, 73 (7), pp. 1737-1749. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) shoulder the bulk of the global burden of infectious diseases and drug resistance. We searched for supranational networks performing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance in LMICs and assessed their organization, methodology, impacts and challenges. Since 2000, 72 supranational networks for AMR surveillance in bacteria, fungi, HIV, TB and malaria have been created that have involved LMICs, of which 34 are ongoing. The median (range) duration of the networks was 6 years (1-70) and the number of LMICs included was 8 (1-67). Networks were categorized as WHO/governmental (n = 26), academic (n = 24) or pharma initiated (n = 22). Funding sources varied, with 30 networks receiving public or WHO funding, 25 corporate, 13 trust or foundation, and 4 funded from more than one source. The leading global programmes for drug resistance surveillance in TB, malaria and HIV gather data in LMICs through periodic active surveillance efforts or combined active and passive approaches. The biggest challenges faced by these networks has been achieving high coverage across LMICs and complying with the recommended frequency of reporting. Obtaining high quality, representative surveillance data in LMICs is challenging. Antibiotic resistance surveillance requires a level of laboratory infrastructure and training that is not widely available in LMICs. The nascent Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) aims to build up passive surveillance in all member states. Past experience suggests complementary active approaches may be needed in many LMICs if representative, clinically relevant, meaningful data are to be obtained. Maintaining an up-to-date registry of networks would promote a more coordinated approach to surveillance.

Chu CS, Bancone G, Nosten F, White NJ, Luzzatto L. 2018. Primaquine-induced haemolysis in females heterozygous for G6PD deficiency. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 101. | Citations: 6 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Oxidative agents can cause acute haemolytic anaemia in persons with G6PD deficiency. Understanding the relationship between G6PD genotype and the phenotypic expression of the enzyme deficiency is necessary so that severe haemolysis can be avoided. The patterns of oxidative haemolysis have been well described in G6PD deficient hemizygous males and homozygous females; and haemolysis in the proportionally more numerous heterozygous females has been documented mainly following consumption of fava beans and more recently dapsone. It has long been known that 8-aminoquinolines, notably primaquine and tafenoquine, cause acute haemolysis in G6PD deficiency. To support wider use of primaquine in Plasmodium vivax elimination, more data are needed on the haemolytic consequences of 8-aminoquinolines in G6PD heterozygous females. Two recent studies (in 2017) have provided precisely such data; and the need has emerged for the development of point of care quantitative testing of G6PD activity. Another priority is exploring alternative 8-aminoquinoline dosing regimens that are practical and improve safety in G6PD deficient individuals.

Haniffa R, Beane A, Baker T, Riviello ED, Schell CO, Dondorp AM. 2018. Development and internal validation of the Simplified Mortality Score for the Intensive Care Unit (SMS-ICU). Acta Anaesthesiol Scand, 62 (3), pp. 407-408. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Vercesi V, Pisani L, van Tongeren PSI, Lagrand WK, Leopold SJ, Huson MMA, Henwood PC, Walden A, Smit M, Riviello ED et al. 2018. Correction to: External confirmation and exploration of the Kigali modification for diagnosing moderate or severe ARDS. Intensive Care Med, 44 (3), pp. 403-404. | Show Abstract | Read more

In Table 1 of this article, the numerical data were correct but the graphic part was imprecise.

Fraschka SA, Filarsky M, Hoo R, Niederwieser I, Yam XY, Brancucci NMB, Mohring F, Mushunje AT, Huang X, Christensen PR et al. 2018. Comparative Heterochromatin Profiling Reveals Conserved and Unique Epigenome Signatures Linked to Adaptation and Development of Malaria Parasites. Cell Host Microbe, 23 (3), pp. 407-420.e8. | Citations: 8 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Heterochromatin-dependent gene silencing is central to the adaptation and survival of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites, allowing clonally variant gene expression during blood infection in humans. By assessing genome-wide heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) occupancy, we present a comprehensive analysis of heterochromatin landscapes across different Plasmodium species, strains, and life cycle stages. Common targets of epigenetic silencing include fast-evolving multi-gene families encoding surface antigens and a small set of conserved HP1-associated genes with regulatory potential. Many P. falciparum heterochromatic genes are marked in a strain-specific manner, increasing the parasite's adaptive capacity. Whereas heterochromatin is strictly maintained during mitotic proliferation of asexual blood stage parasites, substantial heterochromatin reorganization occurs in differentiating gametocytes and appears crucial for the activation of key gametocyte-specific genes and adaptation of erythrocyte remodeling machinery. Collectively, these findings provide a catalog of heterochromatic genes and reveal conserved and specialized features of epigenetic control across the genus Plasmodium.

Haniffa R, Beane A, Dondorp AM. 2018. Decision-making in the detection and management of patients with sepsis in resource-limited settings: the importance of clinical examination. Crit Care, 22 (1), pp. 53. | Read more

Lohy Das JP, Kyaw MP, Nyunt MH, Chit K, Aye KH, Aye MM, Karlsson MO, Bergstrand M, Tarning J. 2018. Population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of artesunate in patients with artemisinin sensitive and resistant infections in Southern Myanmar. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 126. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinins are the most effective anti-malarial drugs for uncomplicated and severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. However, widespread artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia is threatening the possibility to control and eliminate malaria. This work aimed to evaluate the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of artesunate and its active metabolite, dihydroartemisinin, in patients with sensitive and resistant falciparum infections in Southern Myanmar. In addition, a simple nomogram previously developed to identify artemisinin resistant malaria infections was evaluated. METHODS: Fifty-three (n = 53) patients were recruited and received daily oral artesunate monotherapy (4 mg/kg) for 7 days. Frequent artesunate and dihydroartemisinin plasma concentration measurements and parasite microscopy counts were obtained and evaluated using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. RESULTS: The absorption of artesunate was best characterized by a transit-compartment (n = 3) model, followed by one-compartment disposition models for artesunate and dihydroartemisinin. The drug-dependent parasite killing effect of dihydroartemisinin was described using an Emax function, with a mixture model discriminating between artemisinin sensitive and resistant parasites. Overall, 56% of the studied population was predicted to have resistant malaria infections. Application of the proposed nomogram to identify artemisinin-resistant malaria infections demonstrated an overall sensitivity of 90% compared to 55% with the traditional day-3 positivity test. CONCLUSION: The pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic properties of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were well-characterized with a mixture model to differentiate between drug sensitive and resistant infections in these patients. More than half of all patients recruited in this study had artemisinin-resistant infections. The relatively high sensitivity of the proposed nomogram highlights its potential clinical usefulness.

Ombelet S, Ronat J-B, Walsh T, Yansouni CP, Cox J, Vlieghe E, Martiny D, Semret M, Vandenberg O, Jacobs J, Bacteriology in Low Resource Settings working group. 2018. Clinical bacteriology in low-resource settings: today's solutions. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (8), pp. e248-e258. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Low-resource settings are disproportionately burdened by infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Good quality clinical bacteriology through a well functioning reference laboratory network is necessary for effective resistance control, but low-resource settings face infrastructural, technical, and behavioural challenges in the implementation of clinical bacteriology. In this Personal View, we explore what constitutes successful implementation of clinical bacteriology in low-resource settings and describe a framework for implementation that is suitable for general referral hospitals in low-income and middle-income countries with a moderate infrastructure. Most microbiological techniques and equipment are not developed for the specific needs of such settings. Pending the arrival of a new generation diagnostics for these settings, we suggest focus on improving, adapting, and implementing conventional, culture-based techniques. Priorities in low-resource settings include harmonised, quality assured, and tropicalised equipment, consumables, and techniques, and rationalised bacterial identification and testing for antimicrobial resistance. Diagnostics should be integrated into clinical care and patient management; clinically relevant specimens must be appropriately selected and prioritised. Open-access training materials and information management tools should be developed. Also important is the need for onsite validation and field adoption of diagnostics in low-resource settings, with considerable shortening of the time between development and implementation of diagnostics. We argue that the implementation of clinical bacteriology in low-resource settings improves patient management, provides valuable surveillance for local antibiotic treatment guidelines and national policies, and supports containment of antimicrobial resistance and the prevention and control of hospital-acquired infections.

Dance DA, Limmathurotsakul D. 2018. Global Burden and Challenges of Melioidosis. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. 13-13. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis, an infectious disease caused by the environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, has remained in the shadows for far too long[...].

Win MM, Ashley EA, Zin KN, Aung MT, Swe MMM, Ling CL, Nosten F, Thein WM, Zaw NN, Aung MY et al. 2018. Melioidosis in Myanmar. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. 28-28. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sporadic cases of melioidosis have been diagnosed in Myanmar since the disease was first described in Yangon in 1911. Published and unpublished cases are summarized here, along with results from environmental and serosurveys. A total of 298 cases have been reported from seven states or regions between 1911 and 2018, with the majority of these occurring before 1949. Findings from soil surveys confirm the presence of Burkholderia pseudomallei in the environment in all three regions examined. The true epidemiology of the disease in Myanmar is unknown. Important factors contributing to the current gaps in knowledge are lack of awareness among clinicians and insufficient laboratory diagnostic capacity in many parts of the country. This is likely to have led to substantial under-reporting.

Beane A, Athapattu PL, Dondorp AM, Haniffa R. 2018. Commentary: Challenges and Priorities for Pediatric Critical Care Clinician-Researchers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Front Pediatr, 6 pp. 38. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Read more

Haenssgen MJ, Charoenboon N, Althaus T, Greer RC, Intralawan D, Lubell Y. 2018. The social role of C-reactive protein point-of-care testing to guide antibiotic prescription in Northern Thailand. Soc Sci Med, 202 pp. 1-12. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

New and affordable point-of-care testing (POCT) solutions are hoped to guide antibiotic prescription and to help limit antimicrobial resistance (AMR)-especially in low- and middle-income countries where resource constraints often prevent extensive diagnostic testing. Anthropological and sociological research has illuminated the role and impact of rapid point-of-care malaria testing. This paper expands our knowledge about the social implications of non-malarial POCT, using the case study of a C-reactive-protein point-of-care testing (CRP POCT) clinical trial with febrile patients at primary-care-level health centres in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. We investigate the social role of CRP POCT through its interactions with (a) the healthcare workers who use it, (b) the patients whose routine care is affected by the test, and (c) the existing patient-health system linkages that might resonate or interfere with CRP POCT. We conduct a thematic analysis of data from 58 purposively sampled pre- and post-intervention patients and healthcare workers in August 2016 and May 2017. We find widespread positive attitudes towards the test among patients and healthcare workers. Patients' views are influenced by an understanding of CRP POCT as a comprehensive blood test that provides specific diagnosis and that corresponds to notions of good care. Healthcare workers use the test to support their negotiations with patients but also to legitimise ethical decisions in an increasingly restrictive antibiotic policy environment. We hypothesise that CRP POCT could entail greater patient adherence to recommended antibiotic treatment, but it could also encourage riskier health behaviour and entail potentially adverse equity implications for patients across generations and socioeconomic strata. Our empirical findings inform the clinical literature on increasingly propagated point-of-care biomarker tests to guide antibiotic prescriptions, and we contribute to the anthropological and sociological literature through a novel conceptualisation of the patient-health system interface as an activity space into which biomarker testing is introduced.

Bory S, Daily F, Khim G, Letchford J, Sok S, Kol H, Seang Lak M, Tuseo L, Vibol C, Oeng S, Turner P. 2018. A Report from the Cambodia Training Event for Awareness of Melioidosis (C-TEAM), October 2017. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. 23-23. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is an endemic infection in Cambodia, a lower middle income SE Asian country. Despite more laboratories isolating and identifying Burkholderia pseudomallei in recent years, the infection remains under-recognised and under-diagnosed, particularly in the adult population. Lack of knowledge about the disease and lack of utilization of microbiology laboratories contributes to this, along with laboratory capacity issues. Treatment costs often hamper optimal management. In response to these issues, a national one-health training event was held in October 2017 to raise awareness of the disease amongst clinical, laboratory, and public health professionals. The meeting format, findings, and outcomes are described here.

de Kock M, Tarning J, Workman L, Allen EN, Tekete MM, Djimde AA, Bell DJ, Ward SA, Barnes KI, Denti P. 2018. Population Pharmacokinetic Properties of Sulfadoxine and Pyrimethamine: a Pooled Analysis To Inform Optimal Dosing in African Children with Uncomplicated Malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 62 (5), | Show Abstract | Read more

Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine with amodiaquine is recommended by the World Health Organization as seasonal malaria chemoprevention for children aged 3 to 59 months in the sub-Sahel regions of Africa. Suboptimal dosing in children may lead to treatment failure and increased resistance. Pooled individual patient data from four previously published trials on the pharmacokinetics of sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine in 415 pediatric and 386 adult patients were analyzed using nonlinear mixed-effects modeling to evaluate the current dosing regimen and, if needed, to propose an optimized dosing regimen for children under 5 years of age. The population pharmacokinetics of sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine were both best described by a one-compartment disposition model with first-order absorption and elimination. Body weight, age, and nutritional status (measured as the weight-for-age Z-score) were found to be significant covariates. Allometric scaling with total body weight and the maturation of clearance in children by postgestational age improved the model fit. Underweight-for-age children were found to have 15.3% and 26.7% lower bioavailabilities of sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine, respectively, for each Z-score unit below -2. Under current dosing recommendations, simulation predicted that the median day 7 concentration was below the 25th percentile for a typical adult patient (50 kg) for sulfadoxine for patients in the weight bands of 8 to 9, 19 to 24, 46 to 49, and 74 to 79 kg and for pyrimethamine for patients in the weight bands of 8 to 9, 14 to 24, and 42 to 49 kg. An evidence-based dosing regimen was constructed that would achieve sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine exposures in young children and underweight-for-age young children that were similar to those currently seen in a typical adult.

Dance DAB, Luangraj M, Rattanavong S, Sithivong N, Vongnalaysane O, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN. 2018. Melioidosis in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Trop Med Infect Dis, 3 (1), pp. 21-21. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is clearly highly endemic in Laos, although the disease has only been diagnosed regularly in humans (1359 cases) since 1999, and only a single animal case has been microbiologically confirmed. Burkholderiapseudomallei is extensively and abundantly present in soil and surface water in central and southern Laos, but the true distribution of the disease across the country remains to be determined. Surveillance is almost non-existent and diagnostic microbiology services are not yet well established, whilst awareness of melioidosis is low amongst policy-makers, healthcare providers, and the public. It is hoped that this situation will improve over the next decade as the country rapidly develops, especially as this is likely to be accompanied by a further increase in the prevalence of diabetes, meaning that more people in this predominantly agricultural population will be at risk of contracting melioidosis.

Lie KC, Lau C-Y, Van Vinh Chau N, West TE, Limmathurotsakul D, for Southeast Asia Infectious Disease Clinical Research Network. 2018. Utility of SOFA score, management and outcomes of sepsis in Southeast Asia: a multinational multicenter prospective observational study. J Intensive Care, 6 (1), pp. 9. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Sepsis is a global threat but insufficiently studied in Southeast Asia. The objective was to evaluate management, outcomes, adherence to sepsis bundles, and mortality prediction of maximum Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores in patients with community-acquired sepsis in Southeast Asia. Methods: We prospectively recruited hospitalized adults within 24 h of admission with community-acquired infection at nine public hospitals in Indonesia (n = 3), Thailand (n = 3), and Vietnam (n = 3). In patients with organ dysfunction (total SOFA score ≥ 2), we analyzed sepsis management and outcomes and evaluated mortality prediction of the SOFA scores. Organ failure was defined as the maximum SOFA score ≥ 3 for an individual organ system. Results: From December 2013 to December 2015, 454 adult patients presenting with community-acquired sepsis due to diverse etiologies were enrolled. Compliance with sepsis bundles within 24 h of admission was low: broad-spectrum antibiotics in 76% (344/454), ≥ 1500 mL fluid in 50% of patients with hypotension or lactate ≥ 4 mmol/L (115/231), and adrenergic agents in 71% of patients with hypotension (135/191). Three hundred and fifty-five patients (78%) were managed outside of ICUs. Ninety-nine patients (22%) died. Total SOFA score on admission of those who subsequently died was significantly higher than that of those who survived (6.7 vs. 4.6, p < 0.001). The number of organ failures showed a significant correlation with 28-day mortality, which ranged from 7% in patients without any organ failure to 47% in those with failure of at least four organs (p < 0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of the total SOFA score for discrimination of mortality was 0.68 (95% CI 0.62-0.74). Conclusions: Community-acquired sepsis in Southeast Asia due to a variety of pathogens is usually managed outside the ICU and with poor compliance to sepsis bundles. In this population, calculation of SOFA scores is feasible and SOFA scores are associated with mortality. Trial registration:, NCT02157259. Registered 5 June 2014, retrospectively registered.

Pinilla YT, C P Lopes S, S Sampaio V, Andrade FS, Melo GC, Orfanó AS, Secundino NFC, Guerra MGVB, Lacerda MVG, Kobylinski KC et al. 2018. Promising approach to reducing Malaria transmission by ivermectin: Sporontocidal effect against Plasmodium vivax in the South American vectors Anopheles aquasalis and Anopheles darlingi. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (2), pp. e0006221. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The mosquito resistance to the insecticides threatens malaria control efforts, potentially becoming a major public health issue. Alternative methods like ivermectin (IVM) administration to humans has been suggested as a possible vector control to reduce Plasmodium transmission. Anopheles aquasalis and Anopheles darlingi are competent vectors for Plasmodium vivax, and they have been responsible for various malaria outbreaks in the coast of Brazil and the Amazon Region of South America. METHODS: To determine the IVM susceptibility against P. vivax in An. aquasalis and An. darlingi, ivermectin were mixed in P. vivax infected blood: (1) Powdered IVM at four concentrations (0, 5, 10, 20 or 40 ng/mL). (2) Plasma (0 hours, 4 hours, 1 day, 5, 10 and 14 days) was collected from healthy volunteers after to administer a single oral dose of IVM (200 μg/kg) (3) Mosquitoes infected with P. vivax and after 4 days was provided with IVM plasma collected 4 hours post-treatment (4) P. vivax-infected patients were treated with various combinations of IVM, chloroquine, and primaquine and plasma or whole blood was collected at 4 hours. Seven days after the infective blood meal, mosquitoes were dissected to evaluate oocyst presence. Additionally, the ex vivo effects of IVM against asexual blood-stage P. vivax was evaluated. RESULTS: IVM significantly reduced the prevalence of An. aquasalis that developed oocysts in 10 to 40 ng/mL pIVM concentrations and plasma 4 hours, 1 day and 5 days. In An. darlingi to 4 hours and 1 day. The An. aquasalis mortality was expressively increased in pIVM (40ng/mL) and plasma 4 hours, 1, 5 10 and 14 days post-intake drug and in An. darlingi only to 4 hours and 1 day. The double fed meal with mIVM by the mosquitoes has a considerable impact on the proportion of infected mosquitoes for 7 days post-feeding. The oocyst infection prevalence and intensity were notably reduced when mosquitoes ingested blood from P. vivax patients that ingested IVM+CQ, PQ+CQ and IVM+PQ+CQ. P. vivax asexual development was considerably inhibited by mIVM at four-fold dilutions. CONCLUSION: In conclusion, whole blood spiked with IVM reduced the infection rate of P. vivax in An. aquasalis and An. darlingi, and increased the mortality of mosquitoes. Plasma from healthy volunteers after IVM administration affect asexual P. vivax development. These findings support that ivermectin may be used to decrease P. vivax transmission.

Zinser ME, Highton AJ, Kurioka A, Kronsteiner B, Hagel J, Leng T, Marchi E, Phetsouphanh C, Willberg CB, Dunachie SJ, Klenerman P. 2018. Human MAIT cells show metabolic quiescence with rapid glucose-dependent upregulation of granzyme B upon stimulation. Immunol Cell Biol, 96 (6), pp. 666-674. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are a well-characterized innate-like T cell population abundant in the human liver, peripheral tissues and blood. MAIT cells serve in the first line of defense against infections, through engagement of their T cell receptor, which recognizes microbial metabolites presented on MR1, and through cytokine-mediated triggering. Typically, they show a quiescent memory phenotype but can undergo rapid upregulation of effector functions including cytolysis upon stimulation. T cells profoundly change their cellular metabolism during their maturation and activation. We sought to determine how MAIT cell metabolism may facilitate both the long-term memory phase in tissue and the transition to rapid effector function. Here, we show, by flow cytometric metabolism assays and extracellular flux analysis that, despite an effector-memory profile, human MAIT cells are metabolically quiescent in a resting state comparable to naïve and central memory T cells. Upon stimulation, they rapidly increase uptake of glucose and show a concomitant upregulation of the effector molecules notably granzyme B, which is impaired by inhibition of glycolysis with 2-deoxyglucose. These findings suggest that MAIT cells share some metabolic characteristics of both resting and effector T cell subsets, with a rapid transition upon triggering. Metabolic programming of this cell type may be of interest in understanding and modulating their function in infectious diseases and cancer.

Fox-Lewis S, Pol S, Miliya T, Day NPJ, Turner P, Turner C. 2018. Utilization of a clinical microbiology service at a Cambodian paediatric hospital and its impact on appropriate antimicrobial prescribing. J Antimicrob Chemother, 73 (2), pp. 509-516. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Antimicrobial resistance threatens human health worldwide. Antimicrobial misuse is a major driver of resistance. Promoting appropriate antimicrobial use requires an understanding of how clinical microbiology services are utilized, particularly in resource-limited settings. Objectives: To assess the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing and the factors affecting utilization of the established clinical microbiology service (CMS). The CMS comprises the microbiology laboratory, clinical microbiologists (infection doctors) and antimicrobial treatment guidelines. Methods: This mixed-methods study was conducted at a non-governmental Cambodian paediatric hospital. Empirical and post-culture antimicrobial prescriptions were reviewed from medical records. The random sample included 10 outpatients per week in 2016 (retrospective) and 20 inpatients per week for 4 weeks in the medical, neonatal and intensive care wards (prospective). Post-culture prescriptions were assessed in patients with positive blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016. Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with clinicians explored barriers and facilitators to use of the CMS. Results: Only 31% of outpatients were prescribed empirical antimicrobials. Post-culture prescriptions (394/443, 89%) were more likely to be appropriate than empirical prescriptions (447/535, 84%), based on treatment guidelines, microbiology advice and antimicrobial susceptibility test results (P = 0.015). Being comprehensive, accessible and trusted enabled CMS utilization. Clinical microbiologists provided a crucial human interface between the CMS and physicians. The main barriers were a strong clinical hierarchy and occasional communication difficulties. Conclusions: Antimicrobial prescribing in this hospital was largely appropriate. A culturally appropriate human interface linking the laboratory and physicians is essential in providing effective microbiology services and ensuring appropriate antimicrobial prescribing in resource-limited settings.

Nguyen T-N, von Seidlein L, Nguyen T-V, Truong P-N, Hung SD, Pham H-T, Nguyen T-U, Le TD, Dao VH, Mukaka M et al. 2018. The persistence and oscillations of submicroscopic Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections over time in Vietnam: an open cohort study. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (5), pp. 565-572. | Citations: 16 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A substantial proportion of Plasmodium species infections are asymptomatic with densities too low to be detectable with standard diagnostic techniques. The importance of such asymptomatic plasmodium infections in malaria transmission is probably related to their duration and density. To explore the duration of asymptomatic plasmodium infections and changes in parasite densities over time, a cohort of participants who were infected with Plasmodium parasites was observed over a 2-year follow-up period. METHODS: In this open cohort study, inhabitants of four villages in Vietnam were invited to participate in baseline and subsequent 3-monthly surveys up to 24 months, which included the collection of venous blood samples. Samples were batch-screened using ultra-sensitive (u)PCR (lower limit of detection of 22 parasites per mL). Participants found to be infected by uPCR during any of these surveys were invited to join a prospective cohort and provide monthly blood samples. We estimated the persistence of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections and changes in parasite densities over a study period of 24 months. FINDINGS: Between Dec 1, 2013, and Jan 8, 2016, 356 villagers participated in between one and 22 surveys. These study participants underwent 4248 uPCR evaluations (11·9 tests per participant). 1874 (32%) of 4248 uPCR tests indicated a plasmodium infection; 679 (36%) of 1874 tests were P falciparum monoinfections, 507 (27%) were P vivax monoinfections, 463 (25%) were co-infections with P falciparum and P vivax, and 225 (12%) were indeterminate species of Plasmodium. The median duration of P falciparum infection was 2 months (IQR 1-3); after accounting for censoring, participants had a 20% chance of having parasitaemia for 4 months or longer. The median duration of P vivax infection was 6 months (3-9), and participants had a 59% chance of having parasitaemia for 4 months or longer. The parasite densities of persistent infections oscillated; following ultralow-density infections, high-density infections developed frequently. INTERPRETATION: Persistent largely asymptomatic P vivax and P falciparum infections are common in this area of low seasonal malaria transmission. Infections with low-density parasitaemias can develop into much higher density infections at a later time, which are likely to sustain malaria endemicity. FUNDING: The Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Wongsuvan G, Wuthiekanun V, Hinjoy S, Day NP, Limmathurotsakul D. 2018. Antibiotic use in poultry: a survey of eight farms in Thailand. Bull World Health Organ, 96 (2), pp. 94-100. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Objective: To investigate antibiotic use in poultry farms in Thailand and estimate the total amount of antibiotics used annually in Thai production of chicken meat. Methods: In a single province, we surveyed eight farms in which chickens were raised for meat and interviewed the farms' owners in 2016. The antibiotic use for each chicken was defined as the amount of antibiotic given to the chicken over its entire lifetime divided by the target weight of the chicken at the time of its slaughter. Assuming that the results were nationally representative, we estimated annual antibiotic use on all Thai chickens raised for meat. Findings: No use of antibiotics for growth promotion was reported. Five farms raised 1-kg chickens for company A and reportedly used no antibiotics unless the chickens were sick. The other three farms raised 3-kg chickens for company B and reported routine use of antibiotics for prophylaxis. Per kg final weight, each chicken raised for company B was reportedly routinely given a mean of 101 mg of antibiotics - that is, 33 mg of amoxicillin, 29 mg colistin, 19 mg oxytetracycline, 18 mg doxycycline and 2 mg tilmicosin. The total amount of antibiotic used on all Thai chickens raised for meat in 2016 was estimated to be 161 tonnes. Conclusion: Each year in Thailand, many tonnes of antibiotics are probably routinely used in raising chickens for meat. Labels on retail packs of meat should include data on antibiotic use in the production of the meat.

Amato R, Pearson RD, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S, Drury E, Stalker J, Miotto O et al. 2018. Origins of the current outbreak of multidrug-resistant malaria in southeast Asia: a retrospective genetic study. Lancet Infect Dis, 18 (3), pp. 337-345. | Citations: 16 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antimalarial resistance is rapidly spreading across parts of southeast Asia where dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is used as first-line treatment for Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The first published reports about resistance to antimalarial drugs came from western Cambodia in 2013. Here, we analyse genetic changes in the P falciparum population of western Cambodia in the 6 years before those reports. METHODS: We analysed genome sequence data on 1492 P falciparum samples from 11 locations across southeast Asia, including 464 samples collected in western Cambodia between 2007 and 2013. Different epidemiological origins of resistance were identified by haplotypic analysis of the kelch13 artemisinin resistance locus and the plasmepsin 2-3 piperaquine resistance locus. FINDINGS: We identified more than 30 independent origins of artemisinin resistance, of which the KEL1 lineage accounted for 140 (91%) of 154 parasites resistant to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine. In 2008, KEL1 combined with PLA1, the major lineage associated with piperaquine resistance. By 2013, the KEL1/PLA1 co-lineage had reached a frequency of 63% (24/38) in western Cambodia and had spread to northern Cambodia. INTERPRETATION: The KEL1/PLA1 co-lineage emerged in the same year that dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine became the first-line antimalarial drug in western Cambodia and spread rapidly thereafter, displacing other artemisinin-resistant parasite lineages. These findings have important implications for management of the global health risk associated with the current outbreak of multidrug-resistant malaria in southeast Asia. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Medical Research Council, UK Department for International Development, and the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Wiersinga WJ, Virk HS, Torres AG, Currie BJ, Peacock SJ, Dance DAB, Limmathurotsakul D. 2018. Melioidosis. Nat Rev Dis Primers, 4 pp. 17107. | Citations: 19 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative environmental bacterium and the aetiological agent of melioidosis, a life-threatening infection that is estimated to account for ∼89,000 deaths per year worldwide. Diabetes mellitus is a major risk factor for melioidosis, and the global diabetes pandemic could increase the number of fatalities caused by melioidosis. Melioidosis is endemic across tropical areas, especially in southeast Asia and northern Australia. Disease manifestations can range from acute septicaemia to chronic infection, as the facultative intracellular lifestyle and virulence factors of B. pseudomallei promote survival and persistence of the pathogen within a broad range of cells, and the bacteria can manipulate the host's immune responses and signalling pathways to escape surveillance. The majority of patients present with sepsis, but specific clinical presentations and their severity vary depending on the route of bacterial entry (skin penetration, inhalation or ingestion), host immune function and bacterial strain and load. Diagnosis is based on clinical and epidemiological features as well as bacterial culture. Treatment requires long-term intravenous and oral antibiotic courses. Delays in treatment due to difficulties in clinical recognition and laboratory diagnosis often lead to poor outcomes and mortality can exceed 40% in some regions. Research into B. pseudomallei is increasing, owing to the biothreat potential of this pathogen and increasing awareness of the disease and its burden; however, better diagnostic tests are needed to improve early confirmation of diagnosis, which would enable better therapeutic efficacy and survival.

Barber BE, Russell B, Grigg MJ, Zhang R, William T, Amir A, Lau YL, Chatfield MD, Dondorp AM, Anstey NM, Yeo TW. 2018. Reduced red blood cell deformability in Plasmodium knowlesi malaria. Blood Adv, 2 (4), pp. 433-443. | Citations: 7 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

The simian parasite Plasmodium knowlesi can cause severe and fatal human malaria. However, little is known about the pathogenesis of this disease. In falciparum malaria, reduced red blood cell deformability (RBC-D) contributes to microvascular obstruction and impaired organ perfusion. In P knowlesi infection, impaired microcirculatory flow has been observed in Macaca mulatta (rhesus macaques), unnatural hosts who develop severe and fatal disease. However, RBC-D has not been measured in human infection or in the natural host M fascicularis (long-tailed macaques). Using ektacytometry, we measured RBC-D in adults with severe and non-severe knowlesi and falciparum malaria and in healthy controls. In addition, we used micropipette aspiration to determine the relative stiffness of infected RBCs (iRBCs) and uninfected RBCs (uRBCs) in P knowlesi-infected humans and M fascicularis Ektacytometry demonstrated that RBC-D overall was reduced in human knowlesi malaria in proportion to disease severity, and in severe knowlesi malaria, it was comparable to that of severe falciparum malaria. RBC-D correlated inversely with parasitemia and lactate in knowlesi malaria and HRP2 in falciparum malaria, and it correlated with hemoglobin nadir in knowlesi malaria. Micropipette aspiration confirmed that in humans, P knowlesi infection increased stiffness of both iRBCs and uRBCs, with the latter mostly the result of echinocytosis. In contrast, in the natural host M fascicularis, echinocyte formation was not observed, and the RBC-D of uRBCs was unaffected. In unnatural primate hosts of P knowlesi, including humans, reduced deformability of iRBCs and uRBCs may represent a key pathogenic mechanism leading to microvascular accumulation, impaired organ perfusion, and anemia.

Buckee CO, Cardenas MIE, Corpuz J, Ghosh A, Haque F, Karim J, Mahmud AS, Maude RJ, Mensah K, Motaze NV et al. 2018. Productive disruption: opportunities and challenges for innovation in infectious disease surveillance. BMJ Glob Health, 3 (1), pp. e000538. | Citations: 6 (European Pubmed Central) | Read more

Castonguay-Vanier J, Klitting R, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Piorkowski G, Baronti C, Sibounheuang B, Vongsouvath M, Chanthongthip A, Thongpaseuth S, Mayxay M et al. 2018. Molecular epidemiology of dengue viruses in three provinces of Lao PDR, 2006-2010. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (1), pp. e0006203. | Citations: 3 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

Few data on dengue epidemiology are available for Lao PDR. Here, we provide information on the complexity of dengue epidemiology in the country, demonstrating dynamic circulation that varies over space and time, according to serotype. We recruited 1,912 consenting patients presenting with WHO dengue criteria at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane (central Laos), between 2006 and 2010. Between 2008 and 2010, 1,413 patients with undifferentiated fever were also recruited at Luang Namtha (LNT) Provincial Hospital (northern Laos) and 555 at Salavan (SV) Provincial Hospital (southern Laos). We report significant variations in Dengue virus (DENV) circulation between the three sites. Peaks of DENV infection were observed in the rainy seasons, although 11% of confirmed cases in the provinces and 4.6% in the capital were detected during the dry and cool seasons (between December and February). Four DENV serotypes were detected among the 867 RT-PCR positive patients: 76.9% DENV-1, 9.6% DENV-2, 7.7% DENV-4 and 5.3% DENV-3. DENV-1 was the predominant serotype throughout the study except in LNT in 2008 and 2009 when it was DENV-2. Before July 2009, DENV-2 was not detected in SV and only rarely detected in Vientiane. DENV-3 and DENV-4 were commonly detected in Vientiane, before 2008 for DENV-4 and after 2009 for DENV-3. The phylogenetic analyses of DENV envelope sequences suggest concurrent multiple introductions of new strains as well as active DENV circulation throughout Laos and with neighboring countries. It is therefore of great importance to develop and strengthen a year-round nation-wide surveillance network in order to collect data that would allow anticipation of public health issues caused by the occurrence of large dengue outbreaks.

Darton TC, Tuyen HT, The HC, Newton PN, Dance DAB, Phetsouvanh R, Davong V, Campbell JI, Hoang NVM, Thwaites GE et al. 2018. Azithromycin Resistance in Shigella spp. in Southeast Asia. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 62 (4), | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Infection by Shigella spp. is a common cause of dysentery in Southeast Asia. Antimicrobials are thought to be beneficial for treatment; however, antimicrobial resistance in Shigella spp. is becoming widespread. We aimed to assess the frequency and mechanisms associated with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin in Southeast Asian Shigella isolates and use these data to assess appropriate susceptibility breakpoints. Shigella isolates recovered in Vietnam and Laos were screened for susceptibility to azithromycin (15 μg) by disc diffusion and MIC. Phenotypic resistance was confirmed by PCR amplification of macrolide resistance loci. We compared the genetic relationships and plasmid contents of azithromycin-resistant Shigella sonnei isolates using whole-genome sequences. From 475 available Shigella spp. isolated in Vietnam and Laos between 1994 and 2012, 6/181 S. flexneri isolates (3.3%, MIC ≥ 16 g/liter) and 16/294 S. sonnei isolates (5.4%, MIC ≥ 32 g/liter) were phenotypically resistant to azithromycin. PCR amplification confirmed a resistance mechanism in 22/475 (4.6%) isolates (mphA in 19 isolates and ermB in 3 isolates). The susceptibility data demonstrated the acceptability of the S. flexneri (MIC ≥ 16 g/liter, zone diameter ≤ 15 mm) and S. sonnei (MIC ≥ 32 g/liter, zone diameter ≤ 11 mm) breakpoints with a <3% discrepancy. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that decreased susceptibility has arisen sporadically in Vietnamese S. sonnei isolates on at least seven occasions between 2000 and 2009 but failed to become established. While the proposed susceptibility breakpoints may allow better recognition of resistant isolates, additional studies are required to assess the impact on the clinical outcome. The potential emergence of azithromycin resistance highlights the need for alternative options for management of Shigella infections in countries where Shigella is endemic.

Peto TJ, Debackere M, Etienne W, Vernaeve L, Tripura R, Falq G, Davoeung C, Nguon C, Rekol H, von Seidlein L et al. 2018. Community participation during two mass anti-malarial administrations in Cambodia: lessons from a joint workshop. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 53. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Two mass drug administrations (MDA) against falciparum malaria were conducted in 2015-16, one as operational research in northern Cambodia, and the other as a clinical trial in western Cambodia. During an April 2017 workshop in Phnom Penh the field teams from Médecins Sans Frontières and the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit discussed lessons for future MDAs.

Haniffa R, Isaam I, De Silva AP, Dondorp AM, De Keizer NF. 2018. Performance of critical care prognostic scoring systems in low and middle-income countries: a systematic review. Crit Care, 22 (1), pp. 18. | Citations: 5 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Prognostic models-used in critical care medicine for mortality predictions, for benchmarking and for illness stratification in clinical trials-have been validated predominantly in high-income countries. These results may not be reproducible in low or middle-income countries (LMICs), not only because of different case-mix characteristics but also because of missing predictor variables. The study objective was to systematically review literature on the use of critical care prognostic models in LMICs and assess their ability to discriminate between survivors and non-survivors at hospital discharge of those admitted to intensive care units (ICUs), their calibration, their accuracy, and the manner in which missing values were handled. METHODS: The PubMed database was searched in March 2017 to identify research articles reporting the use and performance of prognostic models in the evaluation of mortality in ICUs in LMICs. Studies carried out in ICUs in high-income countries or paediatric ICUs and studies that evaluated disease-specific scoring systems, were limited to a specific disease or single prognostic factor, were published only as abstracts, editorials, letters and systematic and narrative reviews or were not in English were excluded. RESULTS: Of the 2233 studies retrieved, 473 were searched and 50 articles reporting 119 models were included. Five articles described the development and evaluation of new models, whereas 114 articles externally validated Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation, the Simplified Acute Physiology Score and Mortality Probability Models or versions thereof. Missing values were only described in 34% of studies; exclusion and or imputation by normal values were used. Discrimination, calibration and accuracy were reported in 94.0%, 72.4% and 25% respectively. Good discrimination and calibration were reported in 88.9% and 58.3% respectively. However, only 10 evaluations that reported excellent discrimination also reported good calibration. Generalisability of the findings was limited by variability of inclusion and exclusion criteria, unavailability of post-ICU outcomes and missing value handling. CONCLUSIONS: Robust interpretations regarding the applicability of prognostic models are currently hampered by poor adherence to reporting guidelines, especially when reporting missing value handling. Performance of mortality risk prediction models in LMIC ICUs is at best moderate, especially with limitations in calibration. This necessitates continued efforts to develop and validate LMIC models with readily available prognostic variables, perhaps aided by medical registries.

Hantrakun V, Thaipadungpanit J, Rongkard P, Srilohasin P, Amornchai P, Langla S, Mukaka M, Chantratita N, Wuthiekanun V, Dance DAB et al. 2018. Presence of B. thailandensis and B. thailandensis expressing B. pseudomallei-like capsular polysaccharide in Thailand, and their associations with serological response to B. pseudomallei. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12 (1), pp. e0006193. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Burkholderia pseudomallei is an environmental Gram-negative bacillus and the cause of melioidosis. B. thailandensis, some strains of which express a B. pseudomallei-like capsular polysaccharide (BTCV), is also commonly found in the environment in Southeast Asia but is considered non-pathogenic. The aim of the study was to determine the distribution of B. thailandensis and its capsular variant in Thailand and investigate whether its presence is associated with a serological response to B. pseudomallei. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We evaluated the presence of B. pseudomallei and B. thailandensis in 61 rice fields in Northeast (n = 21), East (n = 19) and Central (n = 21) Thailand. We found BTCV in rice fields in East and Central but not Northeast Thailand. Fourteen fields were culture positive for B. pseudomallei alone, 8 for B. thailandensis alone, 11 for both B. pseudomallei and B. thailandensis, 6 for both B. thailandensis and BTCV, and 5 for B. pseudomallei, B. thailandensis and BTCV. Serological testing using the indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA) of 96 farmers who worked in the study fields demonstrated that farmers who worked in B. pseudomallei-positive fields had higher IHA titers than those who worked in B. pseudomallei-negative fields (median 1:40 [range: <1:10-1:640] vs. <1:10 [range: <1:10-1:320], p = 0.002). In a multivariable ordered logistic regression model, IHA titers were significantly associated with the presence of B. pseudomallei (aOR = 3.7; 95% CI 1.8-7.8, p = 0.001) but were not associated with presence of B. thailandensis (p = 0.32) or BTCV (p = 0.32). One sequence type (696) was identified for the 27 BTCV isolates tested. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This is the first report of BTCV in Thailand. The presence of B. pseudomallei and B. thailandensis in the same field was not uncommon. Our findings suggest that IHA positivity of healthy rice farmers in Thailand is associated with the presence of B. pseudomallei in rice fields rather than B. thailandensis or BTCV.

Taylor WR, Naw HK, Maitland K, Williams TN, Kapulu M, D'Alessandro U, Berkley JA, Bejon P, Okebe J, Achan J et al. 2018. Single low-dose primaquine for blocking transmission of Plasmodium falciparum malaria - a proposed model-derived age-based regimen for sub-Saharan Africa. BMC Med, 16 (1), pp. 11. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In 2012, the World Health Organization recommended blocking the transmission of Plasmodium falciparum with single low-dose primaquine (SLDPQ, target dose 0.25 mg base/kg body weight), without testing for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDd), when treating patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. We sought to develop an age-based SLDPQ regimen that would be suitable for sub-Saharan Africa. METHODS: Using data on the anti-infectivity efficacy and tolerability of primaquine (PQ), the epidemiology of anaemia, and the risks of PQ-induced acute haemolytic anaemia (AHA) and clinically significant anaemia (CSA), we prospectively defined therapeutic-dose ranges of 0.15-0.4 mg PQ base/kg for children aged 1-5 years and 0.15-0.5 mg PQ base/kg for individuals aged ≥6 years (therapeutic indices 2.7 and 3.3, respectively). We chose 1.25 mg PQ base for infants aged 6-11 months because they have the highest rate of baseline anaemia and the highest risks of AHA and CSA. We modelled an anthropometric database of 661,979 African individuals aged ≥6 months (549,127 healthy individuals, 28,466 malaria patients and 84,386 individuals with other infections/illnesses) by the Box-Cox transformation power exponential and tested PQ doses of 1-15 mg base, selecting dosing groups based on calculated mg/kg PQ doses. RESULTS: From the Box-Cox transformation power exponential model, five age categories were selected: (i) 6-11 months (n = 39,886, 6.03%), (ii) 1-5 years (n = 261,036, 45.46%), (iii) 6-9 years (n = 20,770, 3.14%), (iv) 10-14 years (n = 12,155, 1.84%) and (v) ≥15 years (n = 328,132, 49.57%) to receive 1.25, 2.5, 5, 7.5 and 15 mg PQ base for corresponding median (1st and 99th centiles) mg/kg PQ base of: (i) 0.16 (0.12-0.25), (ii) 0.21 (0.13-0.37), (iii) 0.25 (0.16-0.38), (iv) 0.26 (0.15-0.38) and (v) 0.27 (0.17-0.40). The proportions of individuals predicted to receive optimal therapeutic PQ doses were: 73.2 (29,180/39,886), 93.7 (244,537/261,036), 99.6 (20,690/20,770), 99.4 (12,086/12,155) and 99.8% (327,620/328,132), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: We plan to test the safety of this age-based dosing regimen in a large randomised placebo-controlled trial (ISRCTN11594437) of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in G6PDd African children aged 0.5 - 11 years. If the regimen is safe and demonstrates adequate pharmacokinetics, it should be used to support malaria elimination.

de Camargo TM, de Freitas EO, Gimenez AM, Lima LC, de Almeida Caramico K, Françoso KS, Bruna-Romero O, Andolina C, Nosten F, Rénia L et al. 2018. Prime-boost vaccination with recombinant protein and adenovirus-vector expressing Plasmodium vivax circumsporozoite protein (CSP) partially protects mice against Pb/Pv sporozoite challenge. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 1118. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccine development against Plasmodium vivax malaria lags behind that for Plasmodium falciparum. To narrow this gap, we administered recombinant antigens based on P. vivax circumsporozoite protein (CSP) to mice. We expressed in Pichia pastoris two chimeric proteins by merging the three central repeat regions of different CSP alleles (VK210, VK247, and P. vivax-like). The first construct (yPvCSP-AllFL) contained the fused repeat regions flanked by N- and C-terminal regions. The second construct (yPvCSP-AllCT) contained the fused repeat regions and the C-terminal domain, plus RI region. Mice were vaccinated with three doses of yPvCSP in adjuvants Poly (I:C) or Montanide ISA720. We also used replication-defective adenovirus vectors expressing CSP of human serotype 5 (AdHu5) and chimpanzee serotype 68 (AdC68) for priming mice which were subsequently boosted twice with yPvCSP proteins in Poly (I:C) adjuvant. Regardless of the regime used, immunized mice generated high IgG titres specific to all CSP alleles. After challenge with P. berghei ANKA transgenic parasites expressing Pb/PvVK210 or Pb/PvVK247 sporozoites, significant time delays for parasitemia were observed in all vaccinated mice. These vaccine formulations should be clinically tried for their potential as protective universal vaccine against P. vivax malaria.

Phyo AP, Win KK, Thu AM, Swe LL, Htike H, Beau C, Sriprawat K, Winterberg M, Proux S, Imwong M et al. 2018. Poor response to artesunate treatment in two patients with severe malaria on the Thai-Myanmar border. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 30. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria has declined dramatically along the Thai-Myanmar border in recent years due to malaria control and elimination programmes. However, at the same time, artemisinin resistance has spread, raising concerns about the efficacy of parenteral artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria. CASE PRESENTATION: In November 2015 and April 2017, two patients were treated for severe malaria with parenteral artesunate. Quinine was added within 24 h due to an initial poor response to treatment. The first patient died within 24 h of starting treatment and the second did not clear his peripheral parasitaemia until 11 days later. Genotyping revealed artemisinin resistance Kelch-13 markers. CONCLUSIONS: Reliable efficacy of artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria may no longer be assured in areas where artemisinin resistance has emerged. Empirical addition of parenteral quinine to artesunate for treatment is recommended as a precautionary measure.

Poostchi M, Silamut K, Maude RJ, Jaeger S, Thoma G. 2018. Image analysis and machine learning for detecting malaria. Transl Res, 194 pp. 36-55. | Citations: 11 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria remains a major burden on global health, with roughly 200 million cases worldwide and more than 400,000 deaths per year. Besides biomedical research and political efforts, modern information technology is playing a key role in many attempts at fighting the disease. One of the barriers toward a successful mortality reduction has been inadequate malaria diagnosis in particular. To improve diagnosis, image analysis software and machine learning methods have been used to quantify parasitemia in microscopic blood slides. This article gives an overview of these techniques and discusses the current developments in image analysis and machine learning for microscopic malaria diagnosis. We organize the different approaches published in the literature according to the techniques used for imaging, image preprocessing, parasite detection and cell segmentation, feature computation, and automatic cell classification. Readers will find the different techniques listed in tables, with the relevant articles cited next to them, for both thin and thick blood smear images. We also discussed the latest developments in sections devoted to deep learning and smartphone technology for future malaria diagnosis.

Srisutham S, Saralamba N, Sriprawat K, Mayxay M, Smithuis F, Nosten F, Pukrittayakamee S, Day NPJ, Dondorp AM, Imwong M. 2018. Genetic diversity of three surface protein genes in Plasmodium malariae from three Asian countries. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 24. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Genetic diversity of the three important antigenic proteins, namely thrombospondin-related anonymous protein (TRAP), apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1), and 6-cysteine protein (P48/45), all of which are found in various developmental stages of Plasmodium parasites is crucial for targeted vaccine development. While studies related to the genetic diversity of these proteins are available for Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, barely enough information exists regarding Plasmodium malariae. The present study aims to demonstrate the genetic variations existing among these three genes in P. malariae by analysing their diversity at nucleotide and protein levels. METHODS: Three surface protein genes were isolated from 45 samples collected in Thailand (N = 33), Myanmar (N = 8), and Lao PDR (N = 4), using conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Then, the PCR products were sequenced and analysed using BioEdit, MEGA6, and DnaSP programs. RESULTS: The average pairwise nucleotide diversities (π) of P. malariae trap, ama1, and p48/45 were 0.00169, 0.00413, and 0.00029, respectively. The haplotype diversities (Hd) of P. malariae trap, ama1, and p48/45 were 0.919, 0.946, and 0.130, respectively. Most of the nucleotide substitutions were non-synonymous, which indicated that the genetic variations of these genes were maintained by positive diversifying selection, thus, suggesting their role as a potential target of protective immune response. Amino acid substitutions of P. malariae TRAP, AMA1, and P48/45 could be categorized to 17, 20, and 2 unique amino-acid variants, respectively. For further vaccine development, carboxyl terminal of P48/45 would be a good candidate according to conserved amino acid at low genetic diversity (π = 0.2-0.3). CONCLUSIONS: High mutational diversity was observed in P. malariae trap and ama1 as compared to p48/45 in P. malariae samples isolated from Thailand, Myanmar, and Lao PDR. Taken together, these results suggest that P48/45 might be a good vaccine candidate against P. malariae infection because of its sufficiently low genetic diversity and highly conserved amino acids especially on the carboxyl end.

Tunpattu S, Newey V, Sigera C, De Silva P, Goonarathna A, Aluthge I, Thambavita P, Perera R, Meegahawatte A, Isaam I et al. 2018. A short, structured skills training course for critical care physiotherapists in a lower-middle income country. Physiother Theory Pract, 34 (9), pp. 714-722. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this article is to describe the delivery and acceptability of a short, structured training course for critical care physiotherapy and its effects on the knowledge and skills of the participants in Sri Lanka, a lower-middle income country. METHODS: The two-day program combining short didactic sessions with small group workshops and skills stations was developed and delivered by local facilitators in partnership with an overseas specialist physiotherapist trainer. The impact was assessed using pre/post-course self-assessment, pre/post-course multiple-choice-question (MCQ) papers, and an end-of-course feedback questionnaire. RESULTS: Fifty-six physiotherapists (26% of critical care physiotherapists in Sri Lanka) participated. Overall confidence in common critical care physiotherapy skills improved from 11.6% to 59.2% in pre/post-training self-assessments, respectively. Post-course MCQ scores (mean score = 63.2) and percentage of passes (87.5%) were higher than pre-course scores (mean score = 36.6; percentage of passes = 12.5%). Overall feedback was very positive as 75% of the participants were highly satisfied with the course's contribution to improved critical care knowledge. CONCLUSIONS: This short, structured, critical care focused physiotherapy training has potential benefit to participating physiotherapists. Further, it provides an evidence that collaborative program can be planned and conducted successfully in a resource poor setting. This sustainable short course model may be adaptable to other resource-limited settings.

Cravo P, Machado RB, Leite JA, Leda T, Suwanarusk R, Bittencourt N, Albrecht L, Judice C, Lopes SCP, Lacerda MVG et al. 2018. In silico epitope mapping and experimental evaluation of the Merozoite Adhesive Erythrocytic Binding Protein (MAEBL) as a malaria vaccine candidate. Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 20. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Technical limitations for culturing the human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax have impaired the discovery of vaccine candidates, challenging the malaria eradication agenda. The immunogenicity of the M2 domain of the Merozoite Adhesive Erythrocytic Binding Protein (MAEBL) antigen cloned from the Plasmodium yoelii murine parasite, has been previously demonstrated. RESULTS: Detailed epitope mapping of MAEBL through immunoinformatics identified several MHCI, MHCII and B cell epitopes throughout the peptide, with several of these lying in the M2 domain and being conserved between P. vivax, P. yoelii and Plasmodium falciparum, hinting that the M2-MAEBL is pan-reactive. This hypothesis was tested through functional assays, showing that P. yoelii M2-MAEBL antisera are able to recognize and inhibit erythrocyte invasion from both P. falciparum and P. vivax parasites isolated from Thai patients, in ex vivo assays. Moreover, the sequence of the M2-MAEBL is shown to be highly conserved between P. vivax isolates from the Amazon and Thailand, indicating that the MAEBL antigen may constitute a vaccine candidate outwitting strain-specific immunity. CONCLUSIONS: The MAEBL antigen is promising candidate towards the development of a malaria vaccine.

Adhikari B, Phommasone K, Kommarasy P, Soundala X, Souvanthong P, Pongvongsa T, Henriques G, Newton PN, White NJ, Day NPJ et al. 2018. Why do people participate in mass anti-malarial administration? Findings from a qualitative study in Nong District, Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR (Laos). Malar J, 17 (1), pp. 15. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: As a part of targeted malaria elimination (TME) in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), mass drug administration (MDA) with anti-malarials was conducted in four villages in Nong District, Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR (Laos). A high proportion of the target population participated in the MDA, with over 87% agreeing to take the anti-malarial. Drawing on qualitative data collected alongside the MDA, this article explores the factors that led to this high population coverage. METHODS: Qualitative data collection methods included observations, which were recorded in field notes, focus group discussions (FGDs), and semi-structured interviews (SSIs). Data were collected on local context, MDA-related knowledge, attitudes and perceptions. FGDs and SSIs were audio-recorded, transcribed and translated to English. All transcriptions and field notes underwent qualitative content analysis using QSR NVivo. RESULTS: Respondents recognized malaria as a health concern and described the need for a malaria control program. The risk of malaria including asymptomatic infection was explained in terms of participants' work in forest and fields, and poor hygiene. During the MDA rounds, there was an improvement in knowledge on the concept of asymptomatic malaria, the rationale of MDA and the blood test. In all four villages, poverty affected access to healthcare and the provision of free care by TME was highly appreciated. TME was jointly undertaken by research staff and local volunteers. Authorities were involved in all TME activities. Lao Theung communities were cohesive and community members tended to follow each other's behaviour closely including participation in MDA. Factors such as understanding the concept and rationale of the study, free health care, collaboration with the village volunteers, support from authorities and cohesive communities contributed in building trust and high population coverage in MDA. CONCLUSION: Future malaria control programmes can become successful in achieving the high coverage in MDAs drawing from the success of TME in Laos. A high population coverage in TME was a combination of various factors that included the community engagement to promote the concept and rationale of MDA for asymptomatic malaria in addition to their baseline understanding of malaria as a health concern, provision of free primary health care, partnering of the research with local volunteers and authorities, building social relationship with community members and the cohesive nature of the communities boosted the trust and participation in MDA.

Samanamalee S, Sigera PC, De Silva AP, Thilakasiri K, Rashan A, Wadanambi S, Jayasinghe KSA, Dondorp AM, Haniffa R. 2018. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) outcomes in an LMIC tertiary care centre and performance of trauma scores. BMC Anesthesiol, 18 (1), pp. 4. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: This study evaluates post-ICU outcomes of patients admitted with moderate and severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a tertiary neurocritical care unit in an low middle income country and the performance of trauma scores: A Severity Characterization of Trauma, Trauma and Injury Severity Score, Injury Severity Score and Revised Trauma Score in this setting. METHODS: Adult patients directly admitted to the neurosurgical intensive care units of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka between 21st July 2014 and 1st October 2014 with moderate or severe TBI were recruited. A telephone administered questionnaire based on the Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended (GOSE) was used to assess functional outcome of patients at 3 and 6 months after injury. The economic impact of the injury was assessed before injury, and at 3 and 6 months after injury. RESULTS: One hundred and one patients were included in the study. Survival at ICU discharge, 3 and 6 months after injury was 68.3%, 49.5% and 45.5% respectively. Of the survivors at 3 months after injury, 43 (86%) were living at home. Only 19 (38%) patients had a good recovery (as defined by GOSE 7 and 8). Three months and six months after injury, respectively 25 (50%) and 14 (30.4%) patients had become "economically dependent". Selected trauma scores had poor discriminatory ability in predicting mortality. CONCLUSIONS: This observational study of patients sustaining moderate or severe TBI in Sri Lanka (a LMIC) reveals only 46% of patients were alive at 6 months after ICU discharge and only 20% overall attained a good (GOSE 7 or 8) recovery. The social and economic consequences of TBI were long lasting in this setting. Injury Severity Score, Revised Trauma Score, A Severity Characterization of Trauma and Trauma and Injury Severity Score, all performed poorly in predicting mortality in this setting and illustrate the need for setting adapted tools.

Inghammar M, By Y, Farris C, Phe T, Borand L, Kerleguer A, Goyet S, Saphonn V, Phoeung C, Vong S et al. 2018. Serotype Distribution of Clinical Streptococcus pneumoniae Isolates before the Introduction of the 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in Cambodia. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 98 (3), pp. 791-796. | Show Abstract | Read more

Childhood vaccination with the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) was introduced in Cambodia in January 2015. Baseline data regarding circulating serotypes are scarce. All microbiology laboratories in Cambodia were contacted for identification of stored isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae from clinical specimens taken before the introduction of PCV13. Available isolates were serotyped using a multiplex polymerase chain reaction method. Among 166 identified isolates available for serotyping from patients with pneumococcal disease, 4% were isolated from upper respiratory samples and 80% were from lower respiratory samples, and 16% were invasive isolates. PCV13 serotypes accounted for 60% (95% confidence interval [CI] 52-67) of all isolates; 56% (95% CI 48-64) of noninvasive and 77% (95% CI 57-89) of invasive isolates. Antibiotic resistance was more common among PCV13 serotypes. This study of clinical S. pneumoniae isolates supports the potential for high reduction in pneumococcal disease burden and may serve as baseline data for future monitoring of S. pneumoniae serotypes circulation after implementation of PCV13 childhood vaccination in Cambodia.

Schultz MJ, Bos LD, Dondorp AM. 2018. How to improve quality of research in intensive care medicine. Ann Transl Med, 6 (2), pp. 35. | Show Abstract | Read more

This paper discusses several approaches to improve quality of research in intensive care medicine. The baseline standard of care is important in randomized controlled trials. If standard of care is low, trialists could consider improving this before starting the trial. Implementation studies and efficacy trials should not be mixed up. Trialists could further try to increase prognostic as well as predictive enrichment, e.g., through biological phenotyping. Robustness of statistical findings can increase by enrolling sufficiently high numbers of patients and minimizing loss to follow-up.

Andrews KA, Wesche D, McCarthy J, Möhrle JJ, Tarning J, Phillips L, Kern S, Grasela T. 2018. Model-Informed Drug Development for Malaria Therapeutics. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol, 58 (1), pp. 567-582. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a critical public health problem resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality, particularly in developing countries. Owing to the development of resistance toward current therapies, novel approaches to accelerate the development efforts of new malaria therapeutics are urgently needed. There have been significant advancements in the development of in vitro and in vivo experiments that generate data used to inform decisions about the potential merit of new compounds. A comprehensive disease-drug model capable of integrating discrete data from different preclinical and clinical components would be a valuable tool across all stages of drug development. This could have an enormous impact on the otherwise slow and resource-intensive process of traditional clinical drug development.

Fellmeth G, Plugge EH, Carrara V, Fazel M, Oo MM, Phichitphadungtham Y, Pimanpanarak M, Wai NK, Mu O, Charunwatthana P et al. 2018. Migrant perinatal depression study: a prospective cohort study of perinatal depression on the Thai-Myanmar border. BMJ Open, 8 (1), pp. e017129. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: Perinatal depression is a significant contributor to maternal morbidity. Migrant women in resource-poor settings may be at increased risk, yet little research has been conducted in low-income and middle-income settings. This prospective cohort study of migrant women on the Thai-Myanmar border aims to establish prevalence of perinatal depression, identify risk factors for perinatal depression and examine associations with infant outcomes. PARTICIPANTS: Participating women are labour migrants and refugees living on the Thai-Myanmar border. A total of 568 women were recruited in their first trimester of pregnancy and are being followed up to 1-year postpartum. FINDINGS TO DATE: At baseline, women in our study had a median age of 25 years, the predominant ethnicity was Sgaw Karen (48.9%), agriculture was the main employment sector (39.2%) and educational attainment was low with a median of 4 years of education. In the first trimester of pregnancy, a quarter (25.8%; 95% CI 22.3 to 29.5) of all women were depressed as diagnosed by the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnosis of DSM-IV Disorders. FUTURE PLANS: Follow-up is ongoing and expected to continue until January 2018. The prevalence of depression at later stages of pregnancy and during the first postpartum year will be identified, and associations between depression status and demographic, social, migration-related, medical, obstetric and infant factors will be quantified. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT02790905.

Janet S, Carrara VI, Simpson JA, Thin NWW, Say WW, Paw NTM, Chotivanich K, Turner C, Crawley J, McGready R. 2018. Early neonatal mortality and neurological outcomes of neonatal resuscitation in a resource-limited setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border: A descriptive study. PLoS One, 13 (1), pp. e0190419. | Citations: 4 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Of the 4 million neonatal deaths worldwide yearly, 98% occur in low and middle-income countries. Effective resuscitation reduces mortality and morbidity but long-term outcomes in resource-limited settings are poorly described. This study reports on newborn neurological outcomes following resuscitation at birth in a resource-limited setting where intensive newborn care including intubation is unavailable. METHODS: Retrospective analysis of births records from 2008 to 2015 at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) on the Thailand-Myanmar border. FINDINGS: From 21,225 newbonrs delivered, 15,073 (71%) met the inclusion criteria (liveborn, singleton, ≥28 weeks' gestation, delivered in SMRU). Neonatal resuscitation was performed in 460 (3%; 422 basic, 38 advanced) cases. Overall early neonatal mortality was 6.6 deaths per 1000 live births (95% CI 5.40-8.06). Newborns receiving basic and advanced resuscitation presented an adjusted rate for death of 1.30 (95%CI 0.66-2.55; p = 0.442), and 6.32 (95%CI 3.01-13.26; p<0.001) respectively, compared to newborns given routine care. Main factors related to increased need for resuscitation were breech delivery, meconium, and fetal distress (p<0.001). Neurodevelopmental follow-up to one year was performed in 1,608 (10.5%) of the 15,073 newborns; median neurodevelopmental scores of non-resuscitated newborns and those receiving basic resuscitation were similar (64 (n = 1565) versus 63 (n = 41); p = 0.732), while advanced resuscitation scores were significantly lower (56 (n = 5); p = 0.017). INTERPRETATIONS: Newborns requiring basic resuscitation at birth have normal neuro-developmental outcomes at one year of age compared to low-risk newborns. Identification of risk factors (e.g., breech delivery) associated with increased need for neonatal resuscitation may facilitate allocation of staff to high-risk deliveries. This work endorses the use of basic resuscitation in low-resource settings, and supports on-going staff training to maintain bag-and-mask ventilation skills.

Thielemans L, Gornsawun G, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Paw MK, Porn P, Moo PK, Van Overmeire B, Proux S, Nosten F, McGready R et al. 2018. Diagnostic performances of the fluorescent spot test for G6PD deficiency in newborns along the Thailand-Myanmar border: A cohort study. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 1. | Citations: 6 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an inherited enzymatic disorder associated with severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and acute haemolysis after exposure to certain drugs or infections. The disorder can be diagnosed phenotypically with a fluorescent spot test (FST), which is a simple test that requires training and basic laboratory equipment. This study aimed to assess the diagnostic performances of the FST used on umbilical cord blood by locally-trained staff and to compare test results of the neonates at birth with the results after one month of age. Methods: We conducted a cohort study on newborns at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, along the Thai-Myanmar border between January 2015 and May 2016. The FST was performed at birth on the umbilical cord blood by locally-trained staff and quality controlled by specialised technicians at the central laboratory. The FST was repeated after one month of age. Genotyping for common local G6PD mutations was carried out for all discrepant results. Results: FST was performed on 1521 umbilical cord blood samples. Quality control and genotyping revealed 10 misdiagnoses. After quality control, 10.7% of the males (84/786) and 1.2% of the females (9/735) were phenotypically G6PD deficient at birth. The FST repeated at one month of age or later diagnosed 8 additional G6PD deficient infants who were phenotypically normal at birth. Conclusions: This study shows the short-comings of the G6PD FST in neonatal routine screening and highlights the importance of training and quality control. A more conservative interpretation of the FST in male newborns could increase the diagnostic performances. Quantitative point-of-care tests might show higher sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of G6PD deficiency on umbilical cord blood and should be investigated.

Koosakulnirand S, Phokrai P, Jenjaroen K, Roberts RA, Utaisincharoen P, Dunachie SJ, Brett PJ, Burtnick MN, Chantratita N. 2018. Immune response to recombinant Burkholderia pseudomallei FliC. PLoS One, 13 (6), pp. e0198906. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei is a flagellated Gram-negative bacterium which is the causative agent of melioidosis. The disease poses a major public health problem in tropical regions and diabetes is a major risk factor. The high mortality rate of melioidosis is associated with severe sepsis which involves the overwhelming production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Bacterial flagellar protein (flagellin) activates Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5)-mediated innate immune signaling pathways and induces adaptive immune response. However, previous studies of TLR5 signaling in melioidosis have been performed using recombinant flagellin from Salmonella Typhimurium instead of B. pseudomallei. This study aimed to investigate human innate immune response and antibody response against a recombinant B. pseudomallei flagellin (rFliC). We prepared B. pseudomallei rFliC and used it to stimulate HEK-BlueTM-hTLR5 and THP1-DualTM cells to assess TLR5 activation. Subsequently, whole blood stimulation assays with rFliC were performed ex vivo. TLR5-flagellin interactions trigger activation of transcription factor NF-κB in HEK-BlueTM-hTLR5 cells. Pro-inflammatory cytokine (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) productions from whole blood in response to rFliC differed between fourteen healthy individuals. The levels of these cytokines changed in a dose and time-dependent manner. ELISA was used to determine rFliC-specific antibodies in serum samples from different groups of melioidosis patients and healthy subjects. IgG antibody to rFliC in melioidosis patients with diabetes were higher compared with non-diabetic patients. Our results show that B. pseudomallei flagellin is a potent immune stimulator and that the immune responses to rFliC are different among individuals. This may provide valuable insights toward the potential use of rFliC in vaccine development.

Kauss T, Gaubert A, Tabaran L, Tonelli G, Phoeung T, Langlois M-H, White N, Cartwright A, Gomes M, Gaudin K. 2018. Development of rectal self-emulsifying suspension of a moisture-labile water-soluble drug. Int J Pharm, 536 (1), pp. 283-291. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Self-emulsifying drug delivery systems, commonly used for oral delivery of poorly soluble compounds, were used to formulate water soluble but moisture labile compounds for rectal application. The objective was to use the oily phase of the system to formulate a liquid, non-aqueous product while obtaining the advantages of self-emulsification, rapid contact with the rectal mucosa and rapid absorption post-administration. Ceftriaxone was used as a model drug and the human bile salt sodium chenodeoxycholate was used as an absorption enhancer. After preliminary screening of 23 excipients, based on their emulsification ability and emulsion fineness in binary and ternary mixtures, a full factorial design was used to screen different formulations of three preselected excipients. The optimal formulation contained 60% of excipients, namely Capryol 90, Kolliphor EL and Kolliphor PS20 in 4 : 6 : 6 ratio and 40% of a powder blend that included 500 mg of ceftriaxone. Characterization of the system showed that it complied with the requirements for rectal administration, in particular rapid emulsification in a small quantity of liquid. Rabbit bioavailability showed rapid absorption of ceftriaxone, achieving 128% bioavailability compared to powder control formulation. These results demonstrated the potential of self-emulsifying formulations for rectal administration of Class 3 BCS drugs.

Ngor P, White LJ, Chalk J, Lubell Y, Favede C, Cheah P-Y, Nguon C, Ly P, Maude RJ, Sovannaroth S et al. 2018. Smartphones for community health in rural Cambodia: A feasibility study. Wellcome Open Res, 3 pp. 69. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Village Malaria Workers (VMWs) are lay people trained to provide a valuable role in frontline testing and treatment of malaria in rural villages in Cambodia. Emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria highlights the essential role of such VMWs in surveillance and early treatment of malaria. Smartphone technology offers huge potential to support VMWs in isolated and resource-poor settings.  Methods: We investigated the feasibility of issuing established VMWs with a smartphone, bespoke Android application and solar charger to support their role. 27 VMWs in Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces participated.  Results: 26/27 of the smartphones deployed were working well at study completion twelve months later. Interviews with VMWs using quantitative and qualitative methods revealed pride, ease of use and reports of faster communication with the smartphone. VMWs also expressed a strong wish to help people presenting with non-malarial fever, for which further potential supportive smartphone applications are increasingly available.  Conclusions: As a result of this pilot study, two smartphone based reporting systems for malaria have been developed at the Cambodian National Malaria Center, and the programme is now being extended nationwide. The full code for the smartphone application is made available to other researchers and healthcare providers with this article. Smartphones represent a feasible platform for developing the VMW role to include other health conditions, thus maintaining the relevance of these important community health workers.

Vickers S, Bernier M, Zambrzycki S, Fernandez FM, Newton PN, Caillet C. 2018. Field detection devices for screening the quality of medicines: a systematic review. BMJ Glob Health, 3 (4), pp. e000725. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Poor quality medicines have devastating consequences. A plethora of innovative portable devices to screen for poor quality medicines has become available, leading to hope that they could empower medicine inspectors and enhance surveillance. However, information comparing these new technologies is woefully scarce. Methods: We undertook a systematic review of Embase, PubMed, Web of Science and SciFinder databases up to 30 April 2018. Scientific studies evaluating the performances/abilities of portable devices to assess any aspect of the quality of pharmaceutical products were included. Results: Forty-one devices, from small benchtop spectrometers to 'lab-on-a-chip' single-use devices, with prices ranging from <US$10 to >US$20 000, were included. Only six devices had been field-tested (GPHF-Minilab, CD3/CD3+, TruScan RM, lateral flow dipstick immunoassay, CBEx and Speedy Breedy). The median (range) number of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) assessed per device was only 2 (1-20). The majority of devices showed promise to distinguish genuine from falsified medicines. Devices with the potential to assay API (semi)-quantitatively required consumables and were destructive (GPHF-Minilab, PharmaChk, aPADs, lateral flow immunoassay dipsticks, paper-based microfluidic strip and capillary electrophoresis), except for spectroscopic devices. However, the 10 spectroscopic devices tested for their abilities to quantitate APIs required processing complex API-specific calibration models. Scientific evidence of the ability of the devices to accurately test liquid, capsule or topical formulations, or to distinguish between chiral molecules, was limited. There was no comment on cost-effectiveness and little information on where in the pharmaceutical supply chain these devices could be best deployed. Conclusion: Although a diverse range of portable field detection devices for medicines quality screening is available, there is a vitally important lack of independent evaluation of the majority of devices, particularly in field settings. Intensive research is needed in order to inform national medicines regulatory authorities of the optimal choice of device(s) to combat poor quality medicines.

Leopold SJ, Ghose A, Plewes KA, Mazumder S, Pisani L, Kingston HWF, Paul S, Barua A, Sattar MA, Huson MAM et al. 2018. Point-of-care lung ultrasound for the detection of pulmonary manifestations of malaria and sepsis: An observational study. PLoS One, 13 (12), pp. e0204832. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Patients with severe malaria or sepsis are at risk of developing life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The objective of this study was to evaluate point-of-care lung ultrasound as a novel tool to determine the prevalence and early signs of ARDS in a resource-limited setting among patients with severe malaria or sepsis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Serial point-of-care lung ultrasound studies were performed on four consecutive days in a planned sub study of an observational cohort of patients with malaria or sepsis in Bangladesh. We quantified aeration patterns across 12 lung regions. ARDS was defined according to the Kigali Modification of the Berlin Definition. RESULTS: Of 102 patients enrolled, 71 had sepsis and 31 had malaria. Normal lung ultrasound findings were observed in 44 patients on enrolment and associated with 7% case fatality. ARDS was detected in 10 patients on enrolment and associated with 90% case fatality. All patients with ARDS had sepsis, 4 had underlying pneumonia. Two patients developing ARDS during hospitalisation already had reduced aeration patterns on enrolment. The SpO2/FiO2 ratio combined with the number of regions with reduced aeration was a strong prognosticator for mortality in patients with sepsis (AUROC 91.5% (95% Confidence Interval: 84.6%-98.4%)). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the potential usefulness of point-of-care lung ultrasound to detect lung abnormalities in patients with malaria or sepsis in a resource-constrained hospital setting. LUS was highly feasible and allowed to accurately identify patients at risk of death in a resource limited setting.

Adhikari B, Phommasone K, Pongvongsa T, Soundala X, Koummarasy P, Henriques G, Peto TJ, Seidlein LV, White NJ, Day NPJ et al. 2018. Perceptions of asymptomatic malaria infection and their implications for malaria control and elimination in Laos. PLoS One, 13 (12), pp. e0208912. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), malaria elimination efforts are targeting the asymptomatic parasite reservoirs. Understanding community perceptions about asymptomatic malaria infections and interventions that target this reservoir is critical to the design of community engagement. This article examines knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices related to asymptomatic malaria infections and mass drug administration (MDA) in malaria-endemic villages in southern Savannakhet Province, Laos. METHODS: A questionnaire consisting of questions on socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices on malaria and MDA was administered to each household head or representative (n = 281) in four villages. These topics were also further discussed in 12 single-gender focus group discussions (FGDs). The FGDs were conducted in all four villages and consisted of eight to 10 participants. RESULTS: A minority (14.2%; 40/281) of respondents agreed that a seemingly healthy person could have malaria parasite in his or her blood. Half (52%; 146/281) disagreed and one third (33.8%, 95/281) were unsure. Respondents who responded that "MDA aims to cure everyone" [AOR = 4.6; CI: 1.6-13.1], "MDA is to make our community malaria free" [AOR = 3.3; CI: 1.3-8.1] and "I will take part in future MDA" [AOR = 9.9; CI: 1.2-78.8] were more likely to accept the idea of asymptomatic malaria. During FGDs, respondents recalled signs and symptoms of malaria (fever, chills and headache), and described malaria as a major health problem. Symptomatic and asymptomatic malaria infections were associated with their work in the forest and living conditions. Measures described to eliminate malaria included using mosquito nets, wearing long-sleeved clothes and taking medicine when symptomatic. Most respondents were unaware of MDA as a tool to eliminate malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Awareness of asymptomatic malaria infections, and MDA as a tool to eliminate malaria, was low. With the need to target asymptomatic malaria carriers for elimination efforts in the GMS, as well as informing target groups about asymptomatic infection, accompanying community engagement must build trust in interventions through the active collaboration of government stakeholders, key local persons and community members. This entails training and devolving responsibilities to the community members to implement and sustain the control and elimination efforts.

Dance DAB, Knappik M, Dittrich S, Davong V, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M, Rattanavong S, Pierret A, Newton PN, Amornchai P et al. 2018. Evaluation of consensus method for the culture of Burkholderia pseudomallei in soil samples from Laos. Wellcome open research, 3 pp. 132. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: We have previously shown that PCR following enrichment culture is the most sensitive method to detect Burkholderia pseudomallei in environmental samples. Here we report an evaluation of the published consensus method for the culture of B. pseudomallei from Lao soil in comparison with our conventional culture method and with PCR with or without prior broth enrichment. Methods: One hundred soil samples were collected from a field known to contain B. pseudomallei and processed by: (i) the conventional method, (ii-iii) the consensus method using media prepared in either Laos or Thailand, and (iv) the consensus method performed in Thailand, as well as by (v) PCR following direct extraction of DNA from soil and (vi) PCR following broth pre-enrichment. Results: The numbers of samples in which B. pseudomallei was detected were 42, 10, 7, 6, 6 and 84, respectively. However, two samples were positive by the consensus method but negative by conventional culture, and one sample was negative by PCR following enrichment although B. pseudomallei was isolated by the conventional culture method. Conclusions/Discussion: The results show that no single method will detect all environmental samples that contain B. pseudomallei. People conducting environmental surveys for this organism should be aware of the possibility of false-negative results using the consensus culture method. An approach that entails screening using PCR after enrichment, followed by the evaluation of a range of different culture methods on PCR-positive samples to determine which works best in each setting, is recommended.

Hashmi M, Beane A, Taqi A, Memon MI, Athapattu P, Khan Z, Dondorp AM, Haniffa R. 2018. Pakistan Registry of Intensive CarE (PRICE): Expanding a lower middle-income, clinician-designed critical care registry in South Asia Journal of the Intensive Care Society, | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

© The Intensive Care Society 2018. Introduction: In resource-limited settings – with inequalities in access to and outcomes for trauma, surgical and critical care – intensive care registries are uncommon. Aim: The Pakistan Society of Critical Care Medicine, Intensive Care Society (UK) and the Network for Improving Critical Care Systems and Training (NICST) aim to implement a clinician-led real-time national intensive care registry in Pakistan: the Pakistan Registry of Intensive CarE (PRICE). Method: This was adapted from a successful clinician co-designed national registry in Sri Lanka; ICU information has been linked to real-time dashboards, providing clinicians and administrators individual patient and service delivery activity respectively. Output: Commenced in August 2017, five ICU’s (three administrative regions – 104 beds) were recruited and have reported over 1100 critical care admissions to PRICE. Impact and future: PRICE is being rolled out nationally in Pakistan and will provide continuous granular healthcare information necessary to empower clinicians to drive setting-specific priorities for service improvement and research.

Tangseefa D, Monthathip K, Tuenpakdee N, König A, Kajeechiwa L, Thwin MM, Nosten S, Tun SW, Ma K, Hashmi A et al. 2018. "Nine Dimensions": A multidisciplinary approach for community engagement in a complex postwar border region as part of the targeted malaria elimination in Karen/Kayin State, Myanmar. Wellcome open research, 3 pp. 116. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: In light of growing antimalarial drug resistance in Southeast Asia, control programmes have become increasingly focused on malaria elimination, composed of mass drug administration coupled with prompt diagnosis and treatment of symptomatic cases. The key to a successful elimination programme centres on high participation rates in targeted communities, often enhanced by community engagement (CE) efforts. Social science research was conducted to develop a conceptual framework used for CE activities in the Targeted Malaria Elimination programme, as a cross-border operation in Karen/Kayin State, Myanmar. Methods: Data was collected from three main sources: (1) participant observation and semi-structured interviews of CE team members; (2) participant observation and semi-structured interviews with villagers; and (3) records of CE workshops with CE workers conducted as part of the TME programme. Results: Interviews were conducted with 17 CE team members, with 10 participant observations and interviews conducted with villagers and a total of 3 workshops conducted over the course of this pilot programme in 4 villages (November 2013 to October 2014). Thematic analysis was used to construct the nine dimensions for CE in this complex, post-war region: i) history of the people; ii) space; iii) work; iv) knowledge about the world; v) intriguing obstacle (rumour); vi) relationship with the health care system; vii) migration; viii) logic of capitalism influencing openness; and ix) power relations. Conclusions: Conducting CE for the Targeted Malaria Elimination programme was immensely complicated in Karen/Kayin State because of three key realities: heterogeneous terrains, a post-war atmosphere and cross-border operations. These three key realities constituted the nine dimensions, which proved integral to health worker success in conducting CE. Summary of this approach can aid in infectious disease control programmes, such as those using mass drug administration, to engender high rates of community participation.

Oonsivilai M, Mo Y, Luangasanatip N, Lubell Y, Miliya T, Tan P, Loeuk L, Turner P, Cooper BS. 2018. Using machine learning to guide targeted and locally-tailored empiric antibiotic prescribing in a children's hospital in Cambodia. Wellcome open research, 3 pp. 131. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Early and appropriate empiric antibiotic treatment of patients suspected of having sepsis is associated with reduced mortality. The increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance reduces the efficacy of empiric therapy guidelines derived from population data. This problem is particularly severe for children in developing country settings. We hypothesized that by applying machine learning approaches to readily collect patient data, it would be possible to obtain individualized predictions for targeted empiric antibiotic choices. Methods and Findings: We analysed blood culture data collected from a 100-bed children's hospital in North-West Cambodia between February 2013 and January 2016. Clinical, demographic and living condition information was captured with 35 independent variables. Using these variables, we used a suite of machine learning algorithms to predict Gram stains and whether bacterial pathogens could be treated with common empiric antibiotic regimens: i) ampicillin and gentamicin; ii) ceftriaxone; iii) none of the above. 243 patients with bloodstream infections were available for analysis. We found that the random forest method had the best predictive performance overall as assessed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). The random forest method gave an AUC of 0.80 (95%CI 0.66-0.94) for predicting susceptibility to ceftriaxone, 0.74 (0.59-0.89) for susceptibility to ampicillin and gentamicin, 0.85 (0.70-1.00) for susceptibility to neither, and 0.71 (0.57-0.86) for Gram stain result. Most important variables for predicting susceptibility were time from admission to blood culture, patient age, hospital versus community-acquired infection, and age-adjusted weight score. Conclusions: Applying machine learning algorithms to patient data that are readily available even in resource-limited hospital settings can provide highly informative predictions on antibiotic susceptibilities to guide appropriate empiric antibiotic therapy. When used as a decision support tool, such approaches have the potential to improve targeting of empiric therapy, patient outcomes and reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance.

Kalnoky M, Bancone G, Kahn M, Chu CS, Chowwiwat N, Wilaisrisak P, Pal S, LaRue N, Leader B, Nosten F, Domingo GJ. 2018. Cytochemical flow analysis of intracellular G6PD and aggregate analysis of mosaic G6PD expression. Eur J Haematol, 100 (3), pp. 294-303. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Medicines that exert oxidative pressure on red blood cells (RBC) can cause severe hemolysis in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Due to X-chromosome inactivation, females heterozygous for G6PD with 1 allele encoding a G6PD-deficient protein and the other a normal protein produce 2 RBC populations each expressing exclusively 1 allele. The G6PD mosaic is not captured with routine G6PD tests. METHODS: An open-source software tool for G6PD cytofluorometric data interpretation is described. The tool interprets data in terms of % bright RBC, or cells with normal G6PD activity in specimens collected from 2 geographically and ethnically distinct populations, an African American cohort (USA) and a Karen and Burman ethnic cohort (Thailand) comprising 242 specimens including 89 heterozygous females. RESULTS: The tool allowed comparison of data across 2 laboratories and both populations. Hemizygous normal or deficient males and homozygous normal or deficient females cluster at narrow % bright cells with mean values of 96%, or 6% (males) and 97%, or 2% (females), respectively. Heterozygous females show a distribution of 10-85% bright cells and a mean of 50%. The distributions are associated with the severity of the G6PD mutation. CONCLUSIONS: Consistent cytofluorometric G6PD analysis facilitates interlaboratory comparison of cellular G6PD profiles and contributes to understanding primaquine-associated hemolytic risk.

Haniffa R, Pubudu De Silva A, de Azevedo L, Baranage D, Rashan A, Baelani I, Schultz MJ, Dondorp AM, Dünser MW. 2018. Improving ICU services in resource-limited settings: Perceptions of ICU workers from low-middle-, and high-income countries. J Crit Care, 44 pp. 352-356. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: To evaluate perceptions of intensive care unit (ICU) workers from low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) and high income countries (HICs). MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross sectional design. Data collected from doctors using an anonymous online, questionnaire. RESULTS: Hundred seventy-five from LMICs and 43 from HICs participated. Barriers in LMICs were lack of formal training (Likert score median 3 [inter quartile range 3]), lack of nurses (3[3]) and low wages (3[4]). Strategies for LMICs improvement were formal training of ICU staff (4[3]), an increase in number of ICU nurses (4[2]), collection of outcome data (3[4]), as well as maintenance of available equipment [3(3)]. The most useful role of HIC ICU staff was training of LMIC staff (4[2]). Donation of equipment [2(4)], drugs [2(4)], and supplies (2[4]) perceived to be of limited usefulness. The most striking difference between HIC and LMIC staff was the perception on the lack of physician leadership as an obstacle to ICU functioning (4[3] vs. 0[2], p<0.005). CONCLUSION: LMICs ICU workers perceived lack of training, lack of nurses, and low wages as major barriers to functioning. Training, increase of nurse workforce, and collection of outcome data were proposed as useful strategies to improve LMIC ICU services.

Phouangsouvanh S, Mayxay M, Keoluangkhot V, Vongsouvath M, Davong V, Dance DAB. 2018. Antimicrobial susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates in Vientiane, Lao PDR. J Glob Antimicrob Resist, 13 pp. 91-93. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the antimicrobial susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos). METHODS: A total of 165 gonococcal isolates (1.3%) were obtained from 12 281 genital samples routinely submitted to a diagnostic laboratory in Vientiane, Laos, between 2011 and 2015. Susceptibility to five antibiotics was determined by the standard disk diffusion method for 158 of the isolates. RESULTS: Rates of resistance to penicillin (by β-lactamase production), tetracycline and ciprofloxacin were 89.9%, 99.4% and 84.8%, respectively. All isolates were susceptible to ceftriaxone and spectinomycin. CONCLUSIONS: The situation in Laos is similar to that in neighbouring countries; this fortunately means that the latest Lao national guidelines for treating gonorrhoea should still be effective.

Nguon C, Dysoley L, Davoeung C, Sovann Y, Sanann N, Sareth M, Kunthea P, Vuth S, Sovann K, Kol K et al. 2018. Art and theatre for health in rural Cambodia. Glob Bioeth, 29 (1), pp. 16-21. | Citations: 1 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

This article describes our experience using art and theatre to engage rural communities in western Cambodia to understand malaria and support malaria control and elimination. The project was a pilot science-arts initiative to supplement existing engagement activities conducted by local authorities. In 2016, the project was conducted in 20 villages, involved 300 community members and was attended by more than 8000 people. Key health messages were to use insecticide-treated bed-nets and repellents, febrile people should attend village malaria workers, and to raise awareness about the risk of forest-acquired malaria. Building on the experience and lessons learnt in the year prior, the 2017 project which was conducted in 15 villages involved 600 community members and attracted more than 12,000 people. In addition to the malaria theme, upon discussion with local health authorities, secondary theme (infant vaccination) was added to the 2017 project. We learnt the following lessons from our experience in Cambodia: involving local people including children from the beginning of the project and throughout the process is important; messages should be kept simple; it is necessary to take into consideration practical issues such as location and timing of the activities; and that the project should offer something unique to communities.

Plewes K, Turner GDH, Dondorp AM. 2018. Pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and treatment of coma and acute kidney injury complicating falciparum malaria. Curr Opin Infect Dis, 31 (1), pp. 69-77. | Citations: 1 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Cerebral impairment and acute kidney injury (AKI) are independent predictors of mortality in both adults and children with severe falciparum malaria. In this review, we present recent advances in understanding the pathophysiology, clinical features, and management of these complications of severe malaria, and discuss future areas of research. RECENT FINDINGS: Cerebral malaria and AKI are serious and well recognized complications of severe malaria. Common pathophysiological pathways include impaired microcirculation, due to sequestration of parasitized erythrocytes, systemic inflammatory responses, and endothelial activation. Recent MRI studies show significant brain swelling in both adults and children with evidence of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome-like syndrome although targeted interventions including mannitol and dexamethasone are not beneficial. Recent work shows association of cell-free hemoglobin oxidation stress involved in the pathophysiology of AKI in both adults and children. Paracetamol protected renal function likely by inhibiting cell-free-mediated oxidative stress. It is unclear if heme-mediated endothelial activation or oxidative stress is involved in cerebral malaria. SUMMARY: The direct causes of cerebral and kidney dysfunction remain incompletely understood. Optimal treatment involves prompt diagnosis and effective antimalarial treatment with artesunate. Renal replacement therapy reduces mortality in AKI but delayed diagnosis is an issue.

Otten C, Brilli M, Vollmer W, Viollier PH, Salje J. 2018. Peptidoglycan in obligate intracellular bacteria. Mol Microbiol, 107 (2), pp. 142-163. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Peptidoglycan is the predominant stress-bearing structure in the cell envelope of most bacteria, and also a potent stimulator of the eukaryotic immune system. Obligate intracellular bacteria replicate exclusively within the interior of living cells, an osmotically protected niche. Under these conditions peptidoglycan is not necessarily needed to maintain the integrity of the bacterial cell. Moreover, the presence of peptidoglycan puts bacteria at risk of detection and destruction by host peptidoglycan recognition factors and downstream effectors. This has resulted in a selective pressure and opportunity to reduce the levels of peptidoglycan. In this review we have analysed the occurrence of genes involved in peptidoglycan metabolism across the major obligate intracellular bacterial species. From this comparative analysis, we have identified a group of predicted 'peptidoglycan-intermediate' organisms that includes the Chlamydiae, Orientia tsutsugamushi, Wolbachia and Anaplasma marginale. This grouping is likely to reflect biological differences in their infection cycle compared with peptidoglycan-negative obligate intracellular bacteria such as Ehrlichia and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, as well as obligate intracellular bacteria with classical peptidoglycan such as Coxiella, Buchnera and members of the Rickettsia genus. The signature gene set of the peptidoglycan-intermediate group reveals insights into minimal enzymatic requirements for building a peptidoglycan-like sacculus and/or division septum.

Peto TJ, Tripura R, Davoeung C, Nguon C, Nou S, Heng C, Kunthea P, Adhikari B, Lim R, James N et al. 2018. Reflections on a Community Engagement Strategy for Mass Antimalarial Drug Administration in Cambodia. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 98 (1), pp. 100-104. | Citations: 6 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Mass drug administration (MDA) to interrupt malaria transmission requires the participation of entire communities. As part of a clinical trial in western Cambodia, four villages received MDA in 2015-2016. Before approaching study communities, a collaboration was established with the local health authorities, village leaders, and village malaria workers. Formative research guided the development of engagement strategies. In each village, a team of volunteers was formed to explain MDA to their neighbors and provide support during implementation. Public mobilization events featuring drama and music were used to introduce MDA. Villages comprised groups with different levels of understanding and interests; therefore, multiple tailored engagement strategies were required. The main challenges were explaining malaria transmission, managing perceptions of drug side effects, and reaching mobile populations. It was important that local leaders took a central role in community engagement. Coverage during each round of MDA averaged 84%, which met the target for the trial.

Chu TTT, Sinha A, Malleret B, Suwanarusk R, Park JE, Naidu R, Das R, Dutta B, Ong ST, Verma NK et al. 2018. Quantitative mass spectrometry of human reticulocytes reveal proteome-wide modifications during maturation. Br J Haematol, 180 (1), pp. 118-133. | Citations: 11 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Erythropoiesis is marked by progressive changes in morphological, biochemical and mechanical properties of erythroid precursors to generate red blood cells (RBC). The earliest enucleated forms derived in this process, known as reticulocytes, are multi-lobular and spherical. As reticulocytes mature, they undergo a series of dynamic cytoskeletal re-arrangements and the expulsion of residual organelles, resulting in highly deformable biconcave RBCs (normocytes). To understand the significant, yet neglected proteome-wide changes associated with reticulocyte maturation, we undertook a quantitative proteomics approach. Immature reticulocytes (marked by the presence of surface transferrin receptor, CD71) and mature RBCs (devoid of CD71) were isolated from human cord blood using a magnetic separation procedure. After sub-fractionation into triton-extracted membrane proteins and luminal samples (isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation), quantitative mass spectrometry was conducted to identify more than 1800 proteins with good confidence and coverage. While most structural proteins (such as Spectrins, Ankyrin and Band 3) as well as surface glycoproteins were conserved, proteins associated with microtubule structures, such as Talin-1/2 and ß-Tubulin, were detected only in immature reticulocytes. Atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based imaging revealed an extended network of spectrin filaments in reticulocytes (with an average length of 48 nm), which shortened during reticulocyte maturation (average spectrin length of 41 nm in normocytes). The extended nature of cytoskeletal network may partly account for increased deformability and shape changes, as reticulocytes transform to normocytes.

Chernet A, Utzinger J, Sydow V, Probst-Hensch N, Paris DH, Labhardt ND, Neumayr A. 2018. Prevalence rates of six selected infectious diseases among African migrants and refugees: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis, 37 (4), pp. 605-619. | Citations: 2 (European Pubmed Central) | Show Abstract | Read more

The objective of this paper was to systematically review the literature on the prevalence of selected infectious diseases among migrants/refugees of African origin and to provide policy makers and health care professionals with evidence-based information. We pursued a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the prevalence of six selected infectious diseases (i.e., syphilis, helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, intestinal protozoa infections, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C) among migrants/refugees of African origin. Three electronic databases (i.e., PubMed, EMBASE, and ISI Web of Science) were searched without language restrictions. Relevant data were extracted and random-effects meta-analyses conducted. Only adjusted estimates were analyzed to help account for heterogeneity and potential confounding. We assessed the quality of evidence using the GRADE approach. The results were stratified by geographical region. Ninety-six studies were included. The evidence was of low quality due to the small numbers of countries, infectious diseases, and participants included. African migrants/refugees had median (with 95% confidence interval [95% CI]) prevalence for syphilis, helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, intestinal protozoa infection, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C of 6.0% [95% CI: 2.0-7.0%], 13.0% [95% CI: 9.5-14.5%], 14.0% [95% CI: 13.0-17.0%], 15.0% [95% CI: 10.5-21.0%], 10.0% [95% CI: 6.0-14.0%], and 3.0% [95% CI: 1.0-4.0%], respectively. We found high heterogeneity regardless of the disease (I 2; minimum 97.5%, maximum 99.7%). The relatively high prevalence of some infectious diseases among African migrants/refugees warrants for systematic screening. The large heterogeneity of the available published data does not allow for stratifying such screening programs according to the geographical origin of African migrants/refugees.

Woods K, Nic-Fhogartaigh C, Arnold C, Boutthasavong L, Phuklia W, Lim C, Chanthongthip A, Tulsiani SM, Craig SB, Burns M-A et al. 2018. A comparison of two molecular methods for diagnosing leptospirosis from three different sample types in patients presenting with fever in Laos. Clin Microbiol Infect, 24 (9), pp. 1017.e1-1017.e7. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To compare two molecular assays (rrs quantitative PCR (qPCR) versus a combined 16SrRNA and LipL32 qPCR) on different sample types for diagnosing leptospirosis in febrile patients presenting to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos. METHODS: Serum, buffy coat and urine samples were collected on admission, and follow-up serum ∼10 days later. Leptospira spp. culture and microscopic agglutination tests (MAT) were performed as reference standards. Bayesian latent class modelling was performed to estimate sensitivity and specificity of each diagnostic test. RESULTS: In all, 787 patients were included in the analysis: 4/787 (0.5%) were Leptospira culture positive, 30/787 (3.8%) were MAT positive, 76/787 (9.7%) were rrs qPCR positive and 20/787 (2.5%) were 16SrRNA/LipL32 qPCR positive for pathogenic Leptospira spp. in at least one sample. Estimated sensitivity and specificity (with 95% CI) of 16SrRNA/LipL32 qPCR on serum (53.9% (33.3%-81.8%); 99.6% (99.2%-100%)), buffy coat (58.8% (34.4%-90.9%); 99.9% (99.6%-100%)) and urine samples (45.0% (27.0%-66.7%); 99.6% (99.3%-100%)) were comparable with those of rrs qPCR, except specificity of 16SrRNA/LipL32 qPCR on urine samples was significantly higher (99.6% (99.3%-100%) vs. 92.5% (92.3%-92.8%), p <0.001). Sensitivities of MAT (16% (95% CI 6.3%-29.4%)) and culture (25% (95% CI 13.3%-44.4%)) were low. Mean positive Cq values showed that buffy coat samples were more frequently inhibitory to qPCR than either serum or urine (p <0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Serum and urine are better samples for qPCR than buffy coat, and 16SrRNA/LipL32 qPCR performs better than rrs qPCR on urine. Quantitative PCR on admission is a reliable rapid diagnostic tool, performing better than MAT or culture, with significant implications for clinical and epidemiological investigations of this global neglected disease.

Dondorp AM, Limmathurotsakul D, Ashley EA. 2018. What's wrong in the control of antimicrobial resistance in critically ill patients from low- and middle-income countries? Intensive Care Med, 44 (1), pp. 79-82. | Citations: 5 (Scopus) | Read more

Wei Y, Kypraios T, O'Neill PD, Huang SS, Rifas-Shiman SL, Cooper BS. 2018. Evaluating hospital infection control measures for antimicrobial-resistant pathogens using stochastic transmission models: Application to vancomycin-resistant enterococci in intensive care units. Stat Methods Med Res, 27 (1), pp. 269-285. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Nosocomial pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) are the cause of significant morbidity and mortality among hospital patients. It is important to be able to assess the efficacy of control measures using data on patient outcomes. In this paper, we describe methods for analysing such data using patient-level stochastic models which seek to describe the underlying unobserved process of transmission. The methods are applied to detailed longitudinal patient-level data on vancomycin-resistant Enterococci from a study in a US hospital with eight intensive care units (ICUs). The data comprise admission and discharge dates, dates and results of screening tests, and dates during which precautionary measures were in place for each patient during the study period. Results include estimates of the efficacy of the control measures, the proportion of unobserved patients colonized with vancomycin-resistant Enterococci, and the proportion of patients colonized on admission.

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