Scrub typhus is a life-threatening zoonosis caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi organisms that are transmitted by the larvae of trombiculid mites. Endemic scrub typhus was originally thought to be confined to the so called “tsutsugamushi triangle” within the Asia-Pacific region. In 2006, however, two individual cases were detected in the Middle East and South America, which suggested that the pathogen was present farther afield. Here, we report three autochthonous cases of scrub typhus caused by O. tsutsugamushi acquired on Chiloé Island in southern Chile, which suggests the existence of an endemic focus in South America. (Funded by the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica and the Wellcome Trust.).
Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is an important human pathogen which may cause severe neurological complications and death in children. The virus caused several outbreaks in the Asia-Pacific region during the past two decades and has been considered a significant public health problem in the post-poliovirus eradication era. Unlike poliovirus, there is no effective vaccine or approved antivirals against EV71. To explore anti-EV71 agents therefore is of vital importance. Several strategies have been employed to develop antivirals based on the molecular characteristics of the virus. Among these, some small molecules that were developed against human rhinoviruses and poliovirus are under evaluation. In this review, we discuss the recent development of such small molecules against EV71, known drug resistance and possible solutions to it, and animal models for evaluating the efficacy of these antivirals. Although further investigation is required for clinical applications of the existing candidates, the molecular mechanisms revealed for the inhibition of EV71 replication can be used for designing new molecules against this virus in the future.
Plastic waste can promote microbial colonization by pathogens implicated in outbreaks of disease in the ocean. We assessed the influence of plastic waste on disease risk in 124,000 reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. The likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic. Structurally complex corals are eight times more likely to be affected by plastic, suggesting that microhabitats for reef-associated organisms and valuable fisheries will be disproportionately affected. Plastic levels on coral reefs correspond to estimates of terrestrial mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean. We estimate that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40% by 2025. Plastic waste management is critical for reducing diseases that threaten ecosystem health and human livelihoods.
Escalating resistance to azithromycin and moxifloxacin is being reported for Mycoplasma genitalium in the Asia-Pacific region. Analyzing 140 infections, we found pretreatment fluoroquinolone-resistance mutations in parC (13.6%) and gyrA (5%). ParC S83 changes were associated with moxifloxacin failure. Combined macrolide/fluoroquinolone-resistance mutations were in 8.6% of specimens, for which recommended therapies would be ineffective.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus is the most important vaccine-preventable cause of encephalitis in the Asia-Pacific region. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends integration of JE vaccination into national immunization schedules in all areas where the disease is a public health priority (1). This report updates a previous summary of JE surveillance and immunization programs in Asia and the Western Pacific in 2012 (2). Since 2012, funding for JE immunization has become available through the GAVI Alliance, three JE vaccines have been WHO-prequalified,* and an updated WHO JE vaccine position paper providing guidance on JE vaccines and vaccination strategies has been published (1). Data for this report were obtained from a survey of JE surveillance and immunization practices administered to health officials in countries with JE virus transmission risk, the 2015 WHO/United Nations Children’s Fund Joint Reporting Form on Immunization, notes and reports from JE meetings held during 2014-2016, published literature, and websites. In 2016, 22 (92%) of 24 countries with JE virus transmission risk conducted JE surveillance, an increase from 18 (75%) countries in 2012, and 12 (50%) countries had a JE immunization program, compared with 11 (46%) countries in 2012. Strengthened JE surveillance, continued commitment, and adequate resources for JE vaccination should help maintain progress toward prevention and control of JE.
Malaria in the Asia-Pacific region has been targeted for elimination by the year 2030. This article asks the question, “by what means?” in the context of proven technical strategies and tools against key challenges imposed by the distinct character of the Asia-Pacific malaria problem. The misperception of malaria in the Asia-Pacific region as a less serious but otherwise essentially similar problem to African malaria lulls us into rote application of the same tools and strategies. Those now mitigating the harm done by malaria in Africa will not suffice to eliminate malaria in the Asia-Pacific region - these tasks and the problems are fundamentally distinct. This article describes the singular characteristics of Asia-Pacific malaria and the bearing of those upon the technical strategy of malaria elimination. Most of the tools needed for that endeavor do not yet exist and spirited calls for elimination within the next 14 years may discourage the patience and investments needed to conceive, optimize and validate them.
The Global Meningococcal Initiative (GMI) is a global expert group that includes scientists, clinicians, and public health officials with a wide range of specialties. The purpose of the Initiative is to promote the global prevention of meningococcal disease (MD) through education, research, and cooperation. The first Asia-Pacific regional meeting was held in November 2014. The GMI reviewed the epidemiology of MD, surveillance, and prevention strategies, and outbreak control practices from participating countries in the Asia-Pacific region.Although, in general, MD is underreported in this region, serogroup A disease is most prominent in low-income countries such as India and the Philippines, while Taiwan, Japan, and Korea reported disease from serogroups C, W, and Y. China has a mixed epidemiology of serogroups A, B, C, and W. Perspectives from countries outside of the region were also provided to provide insight into lessons learnt. Based on the available data and meeting discussions, a number of challenges and data gaps were identified and, as a consequence, several recommendations were formulated: strengthen surveillance; improve diagnosis, typing and case reporting; standardize case definitions; develop guidelines for outbreak management; and promote awareness of MD among healthcare professionals, public health officials, and the general public.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a clinical syndrome encompassing a group of chronic, progressive, and debilitating respiratory conditions, that are characterized by incompletely reversible airflow limitation. Within the Asia-Pacific region, prevalence estimates have been derived using various protocols and study methods, and there is little data on the impact of COPD exacerbations. This study aimed to provide a comprehensive picture of the current prevalence and burden of COPD in this region.
We examined the prevalence of inconsistent condom use and its correlates among people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Asia-Pacific region.
Influenza control strategies focus on the use of trivalent influenza vaccines containing two influenza A virus subtypes and one of the two circulating influenza type B lineages (Yamagata or Victoria). Mismatches between the vaccine B lineage and the circulating lineage have been regularly documented in many countries, including those in the Asia-Pacific region. We conducted a literature review with the aim of understanding the relative circulation of influenza B viruses in Asia-Pacific countries.