The explosive pandemic of Zika virus infection occurring throughout South America, Central America, and the Caribbean (see map) and potentially threatening the United States is the most recent of four unexpected arrivals of important arthropod-borne viral diseases in the Western Hemisphere over the past 20 years. It follows dengue, which entered this hemisphere stealthily over decades and then more aggressively in the 1990s; West Nile virus, which emerged in 1999; and chikungunya, which emerged in 2013. Are the successive migrations of these viruses unrelated, or do they reflect important new patterns of disease emergence? Furthermore, are there secondary health consequences . . .
Mayaro virus has been associated with small outbreaks in northern South America. We isolated this virus from a child with acute febrile illness in rural Haiti, confirming its role as a cause of mosquitoborne illness in the Caribbean region. The clinical presentation can mimic that of chikungunya, dengue, and Zika virus infections.
The Mid-Cayman spreading centre is an ultraslow-spreading ridge in the Caribbean Sea. Its extreme depth and geographic isolation from other mid-ocean ridges offer insights into the effects of pressure on hydrothermal venting, and the biogeography of vent fauna. Here we report the discovery of two hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre. The Von Damm Vent Field is located on the upper slopes of an oceanic core complex at a depth of 2,300 m. High-temperature venting in this off-axis setting suggests that the global incidence of vent fields may be underestimated. At a depth of 4,960 m on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre axis, the Beebe Vent Field emits copper-enriched fluids and a buoyant plume that rises 1,100 m, consistent with >400 °C venting from the world’s deepest known hydrothermal system. At both sites, a new morphospecies of alvinocaridid shrimp dominates faunal assemblages, which exhibit similarities to those of Mid-Atlantic vents.
The Caribbean basin is home to some of the most complex interactions in recent history among previously diverged human populations. Here, we investigate the population genetic history of this region by characterizing patterns of genome-wide variation among 330 individuals from three of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola), two mainland (Honduras, Colombia), and three Native South American (Yukpa, Bari, and Warao) populations. We combine these data with a unique database of genomic variation in over 3,000 individuals from diverse European, African, and Native American populations. We use local ancestry inference and tract length distributions to test different demographic scenarios for the pre- and post-colonial history of the region. We develop a novel ancestry-specific PCA (ASPCA) method to reconstruct the sub-continental origin of Native American, European, and African haplotypes from admixed genomes. We find that the most likely source of the indigenous ancestry in Caribbean islanders is a Native South American component shared among inland Amazonian tribes, Central America, and the Yucatan peninsula, suggesting extensive gene flow across the Caribbean in pre-Columbian times. We find evidence of two pulses of African migration. The first pulse-which today is reflected by shorter, older ancestry tracts-consists of a genetic component more similar to coastal West African regions involved in early stages of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The second pulse-reflected by longer, younger tracts-is more similar to present-day West-Central African populations, supporting historical records of later transatlantic deportation. Surprisingly, we also identify a Latino-specific European component that has significantly diverged from its parental Iberian source populations, presumably as a result of small European founder population size. We demonstrate that the ancestral components in admixed genomes can be traced back to distinct sub-continental source populations with far greater resolution than previously thought, even when limited pre-Columbian Caribbean haplotypes have survived.
The increasing burdens of obesity and diabetes are two of the most prominent threats to the health of populations of developed and developing countries alike. The Central America Diabetes Initiative (CAMDI) is the first study to examine the prevalence of diabetes in Central America.
In 2008 a fatal case of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, due to the amoeboflagellate Naegleria fowleri, occurred in Guadeloupe, French West Indies, after a child swam in a bath fed with geothermal water. In order to improve the knowledge on free-living amoebae in this tropical part of France, we investigated on a monthly basis, the presence of Naegleria spp. in the recreational baths, and stream waters which feed them. A total of 73 water samples, 48 sediments and 54 swabs samples were collected from 6 sampling points between June 2011 and July 2012. The water samples were filtered and the filters transferred to non-nutrient agar plates seeded with a heat-killed suspension of Escherichia coli while sediment and swab samples were placed directly on these plates. The plates were incubated at 44°C for the selective isolation of thermophilic Naegleria. To identify the Naegleria isolates the internal transcribed spacers, including the 5.8S rDNA, were amplified by polymerase chain reaction and the sequence of the PCR products was determined. Thermophilic amoebae were present at nearly all collection sites. The pathogenic N. fowleri was the most frequently encountered thermophilic species followed by N. lovaniensis. The concentration of N. fowleri was rather low in most water samples, ranging from 0 to 22 per liter. Sequencing revealed that all N. fowleri isolates belonged to a common Euro-American genotype, the same as detected in the human case in Guadeloupe. These investigations need to be continued in order to counsel the health authorities about prevention measures, because these recreational thermal baths are used daily by local people and tourists.
BACKGROUND: Although tick-borne diseases are important causes of morbidity and mortality in dogs in tropical areas, there is little information on the agents causing these infections in the Caribbean. METHODOLOGY: We used PCRs to test blood from a cross-section of dogs on St Kitts for Ehrlichia (E.) canis, Babesia (B.) spp., Anaplasma (A.) spp. and Hepatozoon (H.) spp. Antibodies against E. canis and A. phagocytophilum/platys were detected using commercial immunochromatography tests. Records of the dogs were examined retrospectively to obtain clinical and laboratory data. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: There was serological and/or PCR evidence of infections of dogs with E. canis (27%; 46/170), Babesia spp. (24%; 90/372) including B. canis vogeli (12%; 43/372) and B. gibsoni (10%; 36/372), A. platys (11%; 17/157) and H. canis (6%; 15/266). We could not identify the Babesia sp. detected in nine dogs. There was evidence of multiple infections with dual infections with E. canis and B. canis vogeli (8%; 14/179) or B. gibsoni (7%; 11/170) being the most common. There was agreement between immunochromatography and PCR test results for E. canis for 87% of dogs. Only 13% of exposed dogs had signs of a tick-borne disease and 38% had laboratory abnormalities. All 10 dogs presenting for a recheck after treatment of E. canis with doxycycline were apparently healthy although all remained seropositive and six still had laboratory abnormalities despite an average of two treatments with the most recent being around 12 months previously. Infections with Babesia spp. were also mainly subclinical with only 6% (4/67) showing clinical signs and 13% (9/67) having laboratory abnormalities. Similarly, animals with evidence of infections with A. platys and H. canis were largely apparently healthy with only occasional laboratory abnormalities. CONCLUSIONS: Dogs are commonly infected with tick-borne pathogens in the Caribbean with most having no clinical signs or laboratory abnormalities.
Early childhood caries (ECC) is a public health problem due to its impact on children’s health, development and well being. Little is known about early childhood oral health in the West Indies or the influence of social and behavioural factors on the prevalence and severity of early childhood caries in this preschool population. The aims of this study were to describe the prevalence and severity of ECC in preschool children in a region of central Trinidad and to explore its relationship with social and behavioural factors.
Is protracted exposure to low doses of ionising radiation associated with an increased risk of solid cancer?
Through the removal of parasites, dead skin and mucus from the bodies of visiting reef fish (clients), cleaner fish have a significant ecosystem function in the ecology of coral reefs. Cleaners gain nutrition from these interactions and through offering a ‘service’ are afforded protection from predators. Given these benefits, it is unclear why more fish do not engage in cleaning, and why part-time cleaning strategies exist. On coral reefs, dedicated species clean throughout their life, whereas some species are facultative, employing opportunistic and/or temporary cleaning strategies. Here, we investigate the cleaning behaviour of a facultative species to assess the relative importance of this interaction to the cleaner. Using a combination of focal and event sampling from a coral reef in Tobago, we show that cleaning is not an essential food source for facultative juvenile blue-headed wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum), as cleaning rate was unrelated to their foraging rate on the substrate. These wrasse displayed two cleaning strategies: stationary versus wandering cleaning, with cleaning frequency being highest for stationary cleaners. A specific cleaning location facilitated increased cleaning frequency, and wrasse cleaning rate decreased as cleaner or client abundance increased. We also compared juvenile blue-headed wrasse cleaning behaviour to a resident dedicated cleaner, the sharknose goby (Elacatinus evelynae), and showed that, in comparison, juvenile wrasse clean a narrower client range, predominately cleaning three species of gregarious free-ranging surgeonfish (Acanthurus spp.). The wrasse, however, frequently approached these clients without cleaning, which suggests that their selective cleaning strategy may be driven by the acquisition of a particular parasitic food source. Juvenile blue-headed wrasse are generalist foragers, and may thus be limited in their cleaning behaviour by their nutritional requirements, the availability of a suitable cleaning site, and fish density, which ultimately means that they do not adopt more dedicated cleaning roles within the reef community.