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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

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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

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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

13

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) continues to make progress toward the eradication target. Only one of the three serotypes, wild poliovirus (WPV) type 1 (WPV1), is still circulating, and the numbers of cases and countries with endemic transmission are at record lows. With the certification of wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) eradication in 2015 and the global replacement of trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (tOPV) containing Sabin poliovirus types 1, 2, and 3 with bivalent OPV containing only Sabin poliovirus types 1 and 3 during April-May 2016, poliovirus type 2 (PV2) is now an eradicated pathogen. However, in eight countries (Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria), monovalent type 2 OPV (mOPV2) was authorized for large-scale outbreak control after tOPV withdrawal (1). Poliovirus containment, an evolving area of work that affects every country, aims to ensure that all PV2 specimens are safely contained to minimize the risk for reintroducing the virus into communities. This report summarizes the current status of poliovirus containment and progress since the last report (2), and outlines remaining challenges. Within 30 countries, 86 facilities have been designated by the relevant national authorities (usually the Ministry of Health) to become poliovirus-essential facilities for the continued storage or handling of PV2 materials; each country is responsible for ensuring that these facilities meet all biorisk management requirements.

Concepts: Poliovirus, Republic, Malaria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Vaccine, Poliomyelitis, Polio vaccine

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On August 10, 2016, 2 years after the most recent wild poliovirus (WPV) case was reported in Nigeria (in July 2014) (1), two WPV cases were reported in the northeastern state of Borno, which has been severely affected by insurgency-related insecurity since 2013. On September 9 and 26, 2016, two additional WPV cases were reported in Borno in children whose families migrated from security-compromised, inaccessible areas of the state. All four cases were WPV serotype 1 (WPV1), with genetic differences indicating prolonged undetected transmission. A large-scale emergency response plan was developed and implemented. The plan initially called for vaccination of 815,791 children during August 15-18 in five local government areas (LGAs) in the immediate vicinity of the first two WPV cases. Subsequently, the plan was expanded to regionally synchronized supplementary immunization activities (SIAs), conducted during August 27-December 6 in five Lake Chad basin countries at increased risk for national and regional WPV1 transmission (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria). In addition, retrospective searches for missed cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), enhanced environmental surveillance for polioviruses, and polio surveillance system reviews were conducted. Prolonged undetected WPV1 transmission in Borno State is a consequence of low population immunity and severe surveillance limitations associated with insurgency-related insecurity and highlights the risk for local and international WPV spread (2). Increasing polio vaccination coverage and implementing high-quality polio surveillance, especially among populations in newly secured and difficult-to-access areas in Borno and other Lake Chad basin areas are urgently needed.

Concepts: Polio vaccine, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Lake Chad, Cameroon, Enterovirus