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Concept: Infection


A widespread epidemic of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection was reported in 2015 in South and Central America and the Caribbean. A major concern associated with this infection is the apparent increased incidence of microcephaly in fetuses born to mothers infected with ZIKV. In this report, we describe the case of an expectant mother who had a febrile illness with rash at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy while she was living in Brazil. Ultrasonography performed at 29 weeks of gestation revealed microcephaly with calcifications in the fetal brain and placenta. After the mother requested termination of the pregnancy, a fetal autopsy was performed. Micrencephaly (an abnormally small brain) was observed, with almost complete agyria, hydrocephalus, and multifocal dystrophic calcifications in the cortex and subcortical white matter, with associated cortical displacement and mild focal inflammation. ZIKV was found in the fetal brain tissue on reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay, with consistent findings on electron microscopy. The complete genome of ZIKV was recovered from the fetal brain.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Embryo, Fetus, Uterus, Infection, Cerebral cortex, Cerebellum, Gestational age


With over 3 billion airline passengers annually, the inflight transmission of infectious diseases is an important global health concern. Over a dozen cases of inflight transmission of serious infections have been documented, and air travel can serve as a conduit for the rapid spread of newly emerging infections and pandemics. Despite sensational media stories and anecdotes, the risks of transmission of respiratory viruses in an airplane cabin are unknown. Movements of passengers and crew may facilitate disease transmission. On 10 transcontinental US flights, we chronicled behaviors and movements of individuals in the economy cabin on single-aisle aircraft. We simulated transmission during flight based on these data. Our results indicate there is low probability of direct transmission to passengers not seated in close proximity to an infectious passenger. This data-driven, dynamic network transmission model of droplet-mediated respiratory disease is unique. To measure the true pathogen burden, our team collected 229 environmental samples during the flights. Although eight flights were during Influenza season, all qPCR assays for 18 common respiratory viruses were negative.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Diseases and disorders, Infection, Influenza, Aircraft, Air travel


CDC has developed interim guidelines for health care providers in the United States caring for pregnant women during a Zika virus outbreak. These guidelines include recommendations for pregnant women considering travel to an area with Zika virus transmission and recommendations for screening, testing, and management of pregnant returning travelers. Updates on areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission are available online ( Health care providers should ask all pregnant women about recent travel. Pregnant women with a history of travel to an area with Zika virus transmission and who report two or more symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease (acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or conjunctivitis) during or within 2 weeks of travel, or who have ultrasound findings of fetal microcephaly or intracranial calcifications, should be tested for Zika virus infection in consultation with their state or local health department. Testing is not indicated for women without a travel history to an area with Zika virus transmission. In pregnant women with laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection, serial ultrasound examination should be considered to monitor fetal growth and anatomy and referral to a maternal-fetal medicine or infectious disease specialist with expertise in pregnancy management is recommended. There is no specific antiviral treatment for Zika virus; supportive care is recommended.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Pregnancy, Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Infection, Measles


Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging flavivirus that causes congenital abnormalities and Guillain-Barré syndrome. ZIKV infection also results in severe eye disease characterized by optic neuritis, chorioretinal atrophy, and blindness in newborns and conjunctivitis and uveitis in adults. We evaluated ZIKV infection of the eye by using recently developed mouse models of pathogenesis. ZIKV-inoculated mice developed conjunctivitis, panuveitis, and infection of the cornea, iris, optic nerve, and ganglion and bipolar cells in the retina. This phenotype was independent of the entry receptors Axl or Mertk, given that Axl(-/-), Mertk(-/-), and Axl(-/-)Mertk(-/-) double knockout mice sustained levels of infection similar to those of control animals. We also detected abundant viral RNA in tears, suggesting that virus might be secreted from lacrimal glands or shed from the cornea. This model provides a foundation for studying ZIKV-induced ocular disease, defining mechanisms of viral persistence, and developing therapeutic approaches for viral infections of the eye.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene, Virus, Infection, Eye, Ophthalmology, Tears, Optic nerve


Fatality rates of infectious diseases are often higher in men than women. Although this difference is often attributed to a stronger immune response in women, we show that differences in the transmission routes that the sexes provide can result in evolution favouring pathogens with sex-specific virulence. Because women can transmit pathogens during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding, pathogens adapt, evolving lower virulence in women. This can resolve the long-standing puzzle on progression from Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) infection to lethal Adult T-cell Leukaemia (ATL); a progression that is more likely in Japanese men than women, while it is equally likely in Caribbean women and men. We argue that breastfeeding, being more prolonged in Japan than in the Caribbean, may have driven the difference in virulence between the two populations. Our finding signifies the importance of investigating the differences in genetic expression profile of pathogens in males and females.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Evolution, Infection, Gender, Human T-lymphotropic virus, Sex


Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting many medically important viruses such as those that cause Zika and dengue. The inoculation of viruses into mosquito bite sites is an important and common stage of all mosquito-borne virus infections. We show, using Semliki Forest virus and Bunyamwera virus, that these viruses use this inflammatory niche to aid their replication and dissemination in vivo. Mosquito bites were characterized by an edema that retained virus at the inoculation site and an inflammatory influx of neutrophils that coordinated a localized innate immune program that inadvertently facilitated virus infection by encouraging the entry and infection of virus-permissive myeloid cells. Neutrophil depletion and therapeutic blockade of inflammasome activity suppressed inflammation and abrogated the ability of the bite to promote infection. This study identifies facets of mosquito bite inflammation that are important determinants of the subsequent systemic course and clinical outcome of virus infection.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Infection, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever


Background A simple treatment regimen that is effective in a broad range of patients who are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains an unmet medical need. Methods We conducted a phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving untreated and previously treated patients with chronic HCV genotype 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6 infection, including those with compensated cirrhosis. Patients with HCV genotype 1, 2, 4, or 6 were randomly assigned in a 5:1 ratio to receive the nucleotide polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir and the NS5A inhibitor velpatasvir in a once-daily, fixed-dose combination tablet or matching placebo for 12 weeks. Because of the low prevalence of genotype 5 in the study regions, patients with genotype 5 did not undergo randomization but were assigned to the sofosbuvir-velpatasvir group. The primary end point was a sustained virologic response at 12 weeks after the end of therapy. Results Of the 624 patients who received treatment with sofosbuvir-velpatasvir, 34% had HCV genotype 1a, 19% genotype 1b, 17% genotype 2, 19% genotype 4, 6% genotype 5, and 7% genotype 6. A total of 8% of patients were black, 19% had cirrhosis, and 32% had been previously treated for HCV. The rate of sustained virologic response among patients receiving sofosbuvir-velpatasvir was 99% (95% confidence interval, 98 to >99). Two patients receiving sofosbuvir-velpatasvir, both with HCV genotype 1, had a virologic relapse. None of the 116 patients receiving placebo had a sustained virologic response. Serious adverse events were reported in 15 patients (2%) in the sofosbuvir-velpatasvir group and none in the placebo group. Conclusions Once-daily sofosbuvir-velpatasvir for 12 weeks provided high rates of sustained virologic response among both previously treated and untreated patients infected with HCV genotype 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6, including those with compensated cirrhosis. (Funded by Gilead Sciences; number, NCT02201940 .).

Concepts: DNA, Clinical trial, Medical terms, Infection, Hepatitis, Hepatitis C, Placebo, Hepatitis C virus


Background Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito-borne flavivirus that has been linked to adverse birth outcomes. Previous reports have shown that person-to-person transmission can occur by means of sexual contact. Methods We conducted a prospective study involving men with symptomatic ZIKV infection to determine the frequency and duration of ZIKV shedding in semen and urine and to identify risk factors for prolonged shedding in these fluids. Specimens were obtained twice per month for 6 months after illness onset and were tested by real-time reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay for ZIKV RNA and by Vero cell culture and plaque assay for infectious ZIKV. Results A total of 1327 semen samples from 184 men and 1038 urine samples from 183 men were obtained 14 to 304 days after illness onset. ZIKV RNA was detected in the urine of 7 men (4%) and in the semen of 60 (33%), including in semen samples from 22 of 36 men (61%) who were tested within 30 days after illness onset. ZIKV RNA shedding in semen decreased substantially during the 3 months after illness onset but continued for 281 days in 1 man (1%). Factors that were independently associated with prolonged RNA shedding included older age, less frequent ejaculation, and the presence of certain symptoms at the time of initial illness. Infectious ZIKV was isolated from 3 of 78 semen samples with detectable ZIKV RNA, all obtained within 30 days after illness onset and all with at least 7.0 log10 ZIKV RNA copies per milliliter of semen. Conclusions ZIKV RNA was commonly present in the semen of men with symptomatic ZIKV infection and persisted in some men for more than 6 months. In contrast, shedding of infectious ZIKV appeared to be much less common and was limited to the first few weeks after illness onset. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.).

Concepts: DNA, Infectious disease, Virus, Infection, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Rabies, Vero cell, Viral shedding


Although some signs of inflammation have been reported previously in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), the data are limited and contradictory. High-throughput methods now allow us to interrogate the human immune system for multiple markers of inflammation at a scale that was not previously possible. To determine whether a signature of serum cytokines could be associated with ME/CFS and correlated with disease severity and fatigue duration, cytokines of 192 ME/CFS patients and 392 healthy controls were measured using a 51-multiplex array on a Luminex system. Each cytokine’s preprocessed data were regressed on ME/CFS severity plus covariates for age, sex, race, and an assay property of newly discovered importance: nonspecific binding. On average, TGF-β was elevated (P = 0.0052) and resistin was lower (P = 0.0052) in patients compared with controls. Seventeen cytokines had a statistically significant upward linear trend that correlated with ME/CFS severity: CCL11 (Eotaxin-1), CXCL1 (GROα), CXCL10 (IP-10), IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-5, IL-7, IL-12p70, IL-13, IL-17F, leptin, G-CSF, GM-CSF, LIF, NGF, SCF, and TGF-α. Of the 17 cytokines that correlated with severity, 13 are proinflammatory, likely contributing to many of the symptoms experienced by patients and establishing a strong immune system component of the disease. Only CXCL9 (MIG) inversely correlated with fatigue duration.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Asthma, Infection, Cytokines, Interleukin, Chemokine, Chronic fatigue syndrome


Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is related to dengue virus and transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, with humans acting as the principal amplifying host during outbreaks. Zika virus was first reported in Brazil in May 2015 (1). By February 9, 2016, local transmission of infection had been reported in 26 countries or territories in the Americas.* Infection is usually asymptomatic, and, when symptoms are present, typically results in mild and self-limited illness with symptoms including fever, rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. However, a surge in the number of children born with microcephaly was noted in regions of Brazil with a high prevalence of suspected Zika virus disease cases. More than 4,700 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported from mid-2015 through January 2016, although additional investigations might eventually result in a revised lower number (2). In response, the Brazil Ministry of Health established a task force to further investigate possible connections between the virus and brain anomalies in infants (3).

Concepts: Disease, Infection, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever