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Concept: Infectious disease


Food pricing strategies have been proposed to encourage healthy eating habits, which may in turn help stem global increases in non-communicable diseases. This systematic review of simulation studies investigates the estimated association between food pricing strategies and changes in food purchases or intakes (consumption) (objective 1); Health and disease outcomes (objective 2), and whether there are any differences in these outcomes by socio-economic group (objective 3).

Concepts: Health, Demography, Disease, Infectious disease, Nutrition, Epidemiology, Medicine


The Black Death, originating in Asia, arrived in the Mediterranean harbors of Europe in 1347 CE, via the land and sea trade routes of the ancient Silk Road system. This epidemic marked the start of the second plague pandemic, which lasted in Europe until the early 19th century. This pandemic is generally understood as the consequence of a singular introduction of Yersinia pestis, after which the disease established itself in European rodents over four centuries. To locate these putative plague reservoirs, we studied the climate fluctuations that preceded regional plague epidemics, based on a dataset of 7,711 georeferenced historical plague outbreaks and 15 annually resolved tree-ring records from Europe and Asia. We provide evidence for repeated climate-driven reintroductions of the bacterium into European harbors from reservoirs in Asia, with a delay of 15 ± 1 y. Our analysis finds no support for the existence of permanent plague reservoirs in medieval Europe.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Silk Road, Middle Ages, Yersinia pestis, Europe, Italy, Pandemic, Black Death


Bacterial and viral infections are often clinically indistinguishable, leading to inappropriate patient management and antibiotic misuse. Bacterial-induced host proteins such as procalcitonin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and Interleukin-6, are routinely used to support diagnosis of infection. However, their performance is negatively affected by inter-patient variability, including time from symptom onset, clinical syndrome, and pathogens. Our aim was to identify novel viral-induced host proteins that can complement bacterial-induced proteins to increase diagnostic accuracy. Initially, we conducted a bioinformatic screen to identify putative circulating host immune response proteins. The resulting 600 candidates were then quantitatively screened for diagnostic potential using blood samples from 1002 prospectively recruited patients with suspected acute infectious disease and controls with no apparent infection. For each patient, three independent physicians assigned a diagnosis based on comprehensive clinical and laboratory investigation including PCR for 21 pathogens yielding 319 bacterial, 334 viral, 112 control and 98 indeterminate diagnoses; 139 patients were excluded based on predetermined criteria. The best performing host-protein was TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) (area under the curve [AUC] of 0.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.86 to 0.91), which was consistently up-regulated in viral infected patients. We further developed a multi-protein signature using logistic-regression on half of the patients and validated it on the remaining half. The signature with the highest precision included both viral- and bacterial-induced proteins: TRAIL, Interferon gamma-induced protein-10, and CRP (AUC of 0.94; 95% CI, 0.92 to 0.96). The signature was superior to any of the individual proteins (P<0.001), as well as routinely used clinical parameters and their combinations (P<0.001). It remained robust across different physiological systems, times from symptom onset, and pathogens (AUCs 0.87-1.0). The accurate differential diagnosis provided by this novel combination of viral- and bacterial-induced proteins has the potential to improve management of patients with acute infections and reduce antibiotic misuse.

Concepts: Inflammation, Medical terms, Virus, Disease, Bacteria, Infectious disease, Infection, Immune system


Precision medicine approaches rely on obtaining precise knowledge of the true state of health of an individual patient, which results from a combination of their genetic risks and environmental exposures. This approach is currently limited by the lack of effective and efficient non-invasive medical tests to define the full range of phenotypic variation associated with individual health. Such knowledge is critical for improved early intervention, for better treatment decisions, and for ameliorating the steadily worsening epidemic of chronic disease. We present proof-of-concept experiments to demonstrate how routinely acquired cross-sectional CT imaging may be used to predict patient longevity as a proxy for overall individual health and disease status using computer image analysis techniques. Despite the limitations of a modest dataset and the use of off-the-shelf machine learning methods, our results are comparable to previous ‘manual’ clinical methods for longevity prediction. This work demonstrates that radiomics techniques can be used to extract biomarkers relevant to one of the most widely used outcomes in epidemiological and clinical research - mortality, and that deep learning with convolutional neural networks can be usefully applied to radiomics research. Computer image analysis applied to routinely collected medical images offers substantial potential to enhance precision medicine initiatives.

Concepts: Prediction, Disease, Learning, Computer vision, Infectious disease, Scientific method, Epidemiology, Medicine


The most cost-effective intervention for certain infectious diseases is to eliminate them entirely. This article reviews the characteristics of potentially eradicable diseases and surveys current eradication methods.

Concepts: Malaria, Disease, Infection, Epidemiology, Infectious disease


Simon Hay and colleagues discuss the potential and challenges of producing continually updated infectious disease risk maps using diverse and large volume data sources such as social media.

Concepts: Clinical surveillance, Disease, Disease surveillance, Infection, Infectious disease, Epidemiology


There has not previously been a systematic comparison of awards for research funding in infectious diseases by sex. We investigated funding awards to UK institutions for all infectious disease research from 1997 to 2010, across disease categories and along the research and development continuum.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infection, Infectious disease


Reproduction is a risky affair; a lifespan cost of maintaining reproductive capability, and of reproduction itself, has been demonstrated in a wide range of animal species. However, little is understood about the mechanisms underlying this relationship. Most cost-of-reproduction studies simply ask how reproduction influences age at death, but are blind to the subjects' actual causes of death. Lifespan is a composite variable of myriad causes of death and it has not been clear whether the consequences of reproduction or of reproductive capability influence all causes of death equally. To address this gap in understanding, we compared causes of death among over 40,000 sterilized and reproductively intact domestic dogs, Canis lupus familiaris. We found that sterilization was strongly associated with an increase in lifespan, and while it decreased risk of death from some causes, such as infectious disease, it actually increased risk of death from others, such as cancer. These findings suggest that to understand how reproduction affects lifespan, a shift in research focus is needed. Beyond the impact of reproduction on when individuals die, we must investigate its impact on why individuals die, and subsequently must identify the mechanisms by which these causes of death are influenced by the physiology associated with reproductive capability. Such an approach may also clarify the effects of reproduction on lifespan in people.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Understanding, Life, Coyote, Canidae, Canis, Gray Wolf, Dog


Wheat is one of the most consumed cereal grains worldwide and makes up a substantial part of the human diet. Although government-supported dietary guidelines in Europe and the U.S.A advise individuals to eat adequate amounts of (whole) grain products per day, cereal grains contain “anti-nutrients,” such as wheat gluten and wheat lectin, that in humans can elicit dysfunction and disease. In this review we discuss evidence from in vitro, in vivo and human intervention studies that describe how the consumption of wheat, but also other cereal grains, can contribute to the manifestation of chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases by increasing intestinal permeability and initiating a pro-inflammatory immune response.

Concepts: Immunology, Infectious disease, Human, Immune system, Maize, Cereal, Nutrition, Wheat


Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne flavivirus that typically causes an asymptomatic infection or mild illness, although infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other serious brain abnormalities. Guillain-Barré syndrome and other neurologic complications can occur in adults after Zika virus infection. However, there are few published reports describing postnatally acquired Zika virus disease among children. During January 2015-July 2016, a total of 158 cases of confirmed or probable postnatally acquired Zika virus disease among children aged <18 years were reported to CDC from U.S. states. The median age was 14 years (range = 1 month-17 years), and 88 (56%) were female. Two (1%) patients were hospitalized; none developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, and none died. All reported cases were travel-associated. Overall, 129 (82%) children had rash, 87 (55%) had fever, 45 (29%) had conjunctivitis, and 44 (28%) had arthralgia. Health care providers should consider a diagnosis of Zika virus disease in children who have an epidemiologic risk factor and clinically compatible illness, and should report cases to their state or local health department.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Illness, Infection, Death, Health, Epidemiology, Medicine, Health care