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Concept: Cameroon

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Background Malaria control has not been routinely informed by the assessment of subnational variation in malaria deaths. We combined data from the Malaria Atlas Project and the Global Burden of Disease Study to estimate malaria mortality across sub-Saharan Africa on a grid of 5 km(2) from 1990 through 2015. Methods We estimated malaria mortality using a spatiotemporal modeling framework of geolocated data (i.e., with known latitude and longitude) on the clinical incidence of malaria, coverage of antimalarial drug treatment, case fatality rate, and population distribution according to age. Results Across sub-Saharan Africa during the past 15 years, we estimated that there was an overall decrease of 57% (95% uncertainty interval, 46 to 65) in the rate of malaria deaths, from 12.5 (95% uncertainty interval, 8.3 to 17.0) per 10,000 population in 2000 to 5.4 (95% uncertainty interval, 3.4 to 7.9) in 2015. This led to an overall decrease of 37% (95% uncertainty interval, 36 to 39) in the number of malaria deaths annually, from 1,007,000 (95% uncertainty interval, 666,000 to 1,376,000) to 631,000 (95% uncertainty interval, 394,000 to 914,000). The share of malaria deaths among children younger than 5 years of age ranged from more than 80% at a rate of death of more than 25 per 10,000 to less than 40% at rates below 1 per 10,000. Areas with high malaria mortality (>10 per 10,000) and low coverage (<50%) of insecticide-treated bed nets and antimalarial drugs included much of Nigeria, Angola, and Cameroon and parts of the Central African Republic, Congo, Guinea, and Equatorial Guinea. Conclusions We estimated that there was an overall decrease of 57% in the rate of death from malaria across sub-Saharan Africa over the past 15 years and identified several countries in which high rates of death were associated with low coverage of antimalarial treatment and prevention programs. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others.).

Concepts: Death, Gabon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon, Africa, Malaria

173

HIV-1, the cause of AIDS, is composed of four phylogenetic lineages, groups M, N, O, and P, each of which resulted from an independent cross-species transmission event of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) infecting African apes. Although groups M and N have been traced to geographically distinct chimpanzee communities in southern Cameroon, the reservoirs of groups O and P remain unknown. Here, we screened fecal samples from western lowland (n = 2,611), eastern lowland (n = 103), and mountain (n = 218) gorillas for gorilla SIV (SIVgor) antibodies and nucleic acids. Despite testing wild troops throughout southern Cameroon (n = 14), northern Gabon (n = 16), the Democratic Republic of Congo (n = 2), and Uganda (n = 1), SIVgor was identified at only four sites in southern Cameroon, with prevalences ranging from 0.8-22%. Amplification of partial and full-length SIVgor sequences revealed extensive genetic diversity, but all SIVgor strains were derived from a single lineage within the chimpanzee SIV (SIVcpz) radiation. Two fully sequenced gorilla viruses from southwestern Cameroon were very closely related to, and likely represent the source population of, HIV-1 group P. Most of the genome of a third SIVgor strain, from central Cameroon, was very closely related to HIV-1 group O, again pointing to gorillas as the immediate source. Functional analyses identified the cytidine deaminase APOBEC3G as a barrier for chimpanzee-to-gorilla, but not gorilla-to-human, virus transmission. These data indicate that HIV-1 group O, which spreads epidemically in west central Africa and is estimated to have infected around 100,000 people, originated by cross-species transmission from western lowland gorillas.

Concepts: Simian immunodeficiency virus, Cameroon, Western Lowland Gorilla, Gorilla, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ape, Central African Republic, Virus

85

Five classical designations of sickle haplotypes are made on the basis of the presence or absence of restriction sites and are named after the ethno-linguistic groups or geographic regions from which the individuals with sickle cell anemia originated. Each haplotype is thought to represent an independent occurrence of the sickle mutation rs334 (c.20A>T [p.Glu7Val] in HBB). We investigated the origins of the sickle mutation by using whole-genome-sequence data. We identified 156 carriers from the 1000 Genomes Project, the African Genome Variation Project, and Qatar. We classified haplotypes by using 27 polymorphisms in linkage disequilibrium with rs334. Network analysis revealed a common haplotype that differed from the ancestral haplotype only by the derived sickle mutation at rs334 and correlated collectively with the Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon, and Arabian/Indian haplotypes. Other haplotypes were derived from this haplotype and fell into two clusters, one composed of Senegal haplotypes and the other composed of Benin and Senegal haplotypes. The near-exclusive presence of the original sickle haplotype in the CAR, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa is consistent with this haplotype predating the Bantu expansions. Modeling of balancing selection indicated that the heterozygote advantage was 15.2%, an equilibrium frequency of 12.0% was reached after 87 generations, and the selective environment predated the mutation. The posterior distribution of the ancestral recombination graph yielded a sickle mutation age of 259 generations, corresponding to 7,300 years ago during the Holocene Wet Phase. These results clarify the origin of the sickle allele and improve and simplify the classification of sickle haplotypes.

Concepts: African Union member states, French language, Natural selection, Sickle, Linkage disequilibrium, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Sickle-cell disease

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To understand how the gut microbiome is impacted by human adaptation to varying environments, we explored gut bacterial communities in the BaAka rainforest hunter-gatherers and their agriculturalist Bantu neighbors in the Central African Republic. Although the microbiome of both groups is compositionally similar, hunter-gatherers harbor increased abundance of Prevotellaceae, Treponema, and Clostridiaceae, while the Bantu gut microbiome is dominated by Firmicutes. Comparisons with US Americans reveal microbiome differences between Africans and westerners but show western-like features in the Bantu, including an increased abundance of predictive carbohydrate and xenobiotic metabolic pathways. In contrast, the hunter-gatherer gut shows increased abundance of predicted virulence, amino acid, and vitamin metabolism functions, as well as dominance of lipid and amino-acid-derived metabolites, as determined through metabolomics. Our results demonstrate gradients of traditional subsistence patterns in two neighboring African groups and highlight the adaptability of the microbiome in response to host ecology.

Concepts: Biochemistry, Bacteria, Cameroon, Nutrition, Amino acid, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Metabolism

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Through full genome analyses of four atypical Bacillus cereus isolates, designated B. cereus biovar anthracis, we describe a distinct clade within the B. cereus group that presents with anthrax-like disease, carrying virulence plasmids similar to those of classic Bacillus anthracis. We have isolated members of this clade from different mammals (wild chimpanzees, gorillas, an elephant and goats) in West and Central Africa (Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo). The isolates shared several phenotypic features of both B. anthracis and B. cereus, but differed amongst each other in motility and their resistance or sensitivity to penicillin. They all possessed the same mutation in the regulator gene plcR, different from the one found in B. anthracis, and in addition, carry genes which enable them to produce a second capsule composed of hyaluronic acid. Our findings show the existence of a discrete clade of the B. cereus group capable of causing anthrax-like disease, found in areas of high biodiversity, which are possibly also the origin of the worldwide distributed B. anthracis. Establishing the impact of these pathogenic bacteria on threatened wildlife species will require systematic investigation. Furthermore, the consumption of wildlife found dead by the local population and presence in a domestic animal reveal potential sources of exposure to humans.

Concepts: Microbiology, Cameroon, Bacillaceae, Gene, Bacteria, Bacillus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic

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Human enteroviruses (HEVs) are endemic worldwide and among the most common viruses infecting humans. Nevertheless, there is very limited data on the circulation and genetic diversity of HEVs in developing countries, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.We investigated the circulation and genetic diversity of HEVs among 436 healthy children in a limited area of the far North region of Cameroon in 2008 and 2009. We also characterized the genetic biodiversity of 146 non-polio enterovirus (NPEV) isolates obtained throughout the year 2008 from the stool specimens of patients with acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in Cameroon, Chad and Gabon.We found a high rate of NPEV infections (36.9%) among healthy children in the far North region of Cameroon. Overall 45 different HEV types were found among healthy children and AFP patients. Interestingly, this study uncovered a high rate of HEVs of species C (HEV-C) among all typed NPEVs: 63.1% (94/149) and 39.5% (49/124) in healthy children and AFP cases, respectively. Besides extensive circulation, the most prevalent HEV-C type, coxsackievirus A-13, featured a tremendous intratypic diversity. African specific HEV lineages were discovered, including HEV-C lineages and the recently reported EV-A71 “genogroup E”.Virtually all pathogenic circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) that have been fully characterized were recombinants between oral poliovaccine (OPV) strains and co-circulating HEV-C. The extensive circulation of diverse HEV-C types and lineages in countries where OPV is massively used constitutes a major viral factor that could promote the emergence of recombinant cVDPVs in the Central African sub-region.

Concepts: Botulism, Central African Republic, Biodiversity, Africa, Far North Region, Flaccid paralysis, Cameroon, Enterovirus

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The authors report the results of parasitological analyses of stool samples in N'Djamena (Chad) since 1963 and in Garoua (North Cameroon) since 1990. The number of positive stool examinations has fallen, with a significant decline in helminthiases, although the level of protozoan infections has remained essentially the same.

Concepts: Protozoan infection, Protozoa, Bacteria, Chad, Cameroon, Intestinal parasite

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Elephant populations are in peril everywhere, but forest elephants in Central Africa have sustained alarming losses in the last decade [1]. Large, remote protected areas are thought to best safeguard forest elephants by supporting large populations buffered from habitat fragmentation, edge effects and human pressures. One such area, the Minkébé National Park (MNP), Gabon, was created chiefly for its reputation of harboring a large elephant population. MNP held the highest densities of elephants in Central Africa at the turn of the century, and was considered a critical sanctuary for forest elephants because of its relatively large size and isolation. We assessed population change in the park and its surroundings between 2004 and 2014. Using two independent modeling approaches, we estimated a 78-81% decline in elephant numbers over ten years - a loss of more than 25,000 elephants. While poaching occurs from within Gabon, cross-border poaching largely drove the precipitous drop in elephant numbers. With nearly 50% of forest elephants in Central Africa thought to reside in Gabon [1], their loss from the park is a considerable setback for the preservation of the species.

Concepts: African Forest Elephant, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Elephants, Central Africa, Elephant, Africa

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The rapidity and synchrony of the African Humid Period (AHP) termination at around 5.5 ka are debated, and it is unclear what caused a rapid hydroclimate response. Here we analysed the hydrogen isotopic composition of sedimentary leaf-waxes (δDwax) from the Gulf of Guinea, a proxy for regional precipitation in Cameroon and the central Sahel-Sahara. Our record indicates high precipitation during the AHP followed by a rapid decrease at 5.8-4.8 ka. The similarity with a δDwax record from northern East Africa suggests a large-scale atmospheric mechanism. We show that northern high- and mid-latitude cooling weakened the Tropical Easterly Jet and, through feedbacks, strengthened the African Easterly Jet. The associated decrease in precipitation triggered the AHP termination and combined with biogeophysical feedbacks to result in aridification. Our findings suggest that extratropical temperature changes, albeit smaller than during the glacial and deglacial, were important in triggering rapid African aridification during the Holocene.

Concepts: Equator, Nigeria, Madagascar, Water, Precipitation, Climate, Cameroon, Africa

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The recent apparent increase in human monkeypox cases across a wide geographic area, the potential for further spread, and the lack of reliable surveillance have raised the level of concern for this emerging zoonosis. In November 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with CDC, hosted an informal consultation on monkeypox with researchers, global health partners, ministries of health, and orthopoxvirus experts to review and discuss human monkeypox in African countries where cases have been recently detected and also identify components of surveillance and response that need improvement. Endemic human monkeypox has been reported from more countries in the past decade than during the previous 40 years. Since 2016, confirmed cases of monkeypox have occurred in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone and in captive chimpanzees in Cameroon. Many countries with endemic monkeypox lack recent experience and specific knowledge about the disease to detect cases, treat patients, and prevent further spread of the virus. Specific improvements in surveillance capacity, laboratory diagnostics, and infection control measures are needed to launch an efficient response. Further, gaps in knowledge about the epidemiology and ecology of the virus need to be addressed to design, recommend, and implement needed prevention and control measures.

Concepts: Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Africa, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo