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Concept: Transmission and infection of H5N1

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Little is known about the amount and infectiousness of influenza virus shed into exhaled breath. This contributes to uncertainty about the importance of airborne influenza transmission. We screened 355 symptomatic volunteers with acute respiratory illness and report 142 cases with confirmed influenza infection who provided 218 paired nasopharyngeal (NP) and 30-minute breath samples (coarse >5-µm and fine ≤5-µm fractions) on days 1-3 after symptom onset. We assessed viral RNA copy number for all samples and cultured NP swabs and fine aerosols. We recovered infectious virus from 52 (39%) of the fine aerosols and 150 (89%) of the NP swabs with valid cultures. The geometric mean RNA copy numbers were 3.8 × 104/30-minutes fine-, 1.2 × 104/30-minutes coarse-aerosol sample, and 8.2 × 108 per NP swab. Fine- and coarse-aerosol viral RNA were positively associated with body mass index and number of coughs and negatively associated with increasing days since symptom onset in adjusted models. Fine-aerosol viral RNA was also positively associated with having influenza vaccination for both the current and prior season. NP swab viral RNA was positively associated with upper respiratory symptoms and negatively associated with age but was not significantly associated with fine- or coarse-aerosol viral RNA or their predictors. Sneezing was rare, and sneezing and coughing were not necessary for infectious aerosol generation. Our observations suggest that influenza infection in the upper and lower airways are compartmentalized and independent.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Body mass index, Genetics, Copy number variation, Gene, Virus, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Influenza

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Highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza A viruses occasionally infect humans, but currently do not transmit efficiently among humans. The viral haemagglutinin (HA) protein is a known host-range determinant as it mediates virus binding to host-specific cellular receptors. Here we assess the molecular changes in HA that would allow a virus possessing subtype H5 HA to be transmissible among mammals. We identified a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus-comprising H5 HA (from an H5N1 virus) with four mutations and the remaining seven gene segments from a 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus-that was capable of droplet transmission in a ferret model. The transmissible H5 reassortant virus preferentially recognized human-type receptors, replicated efficiently in ferrets, caused lung lesions and weight loss, but was not highly pathogenic and did not cause mortality. These results indicate that H5 HA can convert to an HA that supports efficient viral transmission in mammals; however, we do not know whether the four mutations in the H5 HA identified here would render a wholly avian H5N1 virus transmissible. The genetic origin of the remaining seven viral gene segments may also critically contribute to transmissibility in mammals. Nevertheless, as H5N1 viruses continue to evolve and infect humans, receptor-binding variants of H5N1 viruses with pandemic potential, including avian-human reassortant viruses as tested here, may emerge. Our findings emphasize the need to prepare for potential pandemics caused by influenza viruses possessing H5 HA, and will help individuals conducting surveillance in regions with circulating H5N1 viruses to recognize key residues that predict the pandemic potential of isolates, which will inform the development, production and distribution of effective countermeasures.

Concepts: Virus, Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, Pandemic, Transmission and infection of H5N1, 2009 flu pandemic, Influenza pandemic, Avian influenza, Influenza

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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, Viral shedding, Rabies, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Vero cell, Infection, Virus

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The avian H7N9 influenza outbreak in 2013 resulted from an unprecedented incidence of influenza transmission to humans from infected poultry. The majority of human H7N9 isolates contained a hemagglutinin (HA) mutation (Q226L) that has previously been associated with a switch in receptor specificity from avian-type (NeuAcα2-3Gal) to human-type (NeuAcα2-6Gal), as documented for the avian progenitors of the 1957 (H2N2) and 1968 (H3N2) human influenza pandemic viruses. While this raised concern that the H7N9 virus was adapting to humans, the mutation was not sufficient to switch the receptor specificity of H7N9, and has not resulted in sustained transmission in humans. To determine if the H7 HA was capable of acquiring human-type receptor specificity, we conducted mutation analyses. Remarkably, three amino acid mutations conferred a switch in specificity for human-type receptors that resembled the specificity of the 2009 human H1 pandemic virus, and promoted binding to human trachea epithelial cells.

Concepts: DNA, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Human flu, Pandemic, Protein, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Influenza

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BACKGROUND: Celiac disease is defined as a ‘chronic small intestinal immune-mediated enteropathy precipitated by exposure to dietary gluten in genetically predisposed individuals’. Sweden has experienced an “epidemic” of celiac disease in children below two years of age. Celiac disease etiology is considered multifactorial; however, little is known regarding potential risk- or protecting factors. We present data on the possible association between early infectious episodes and celiac disease, including their possible contribution to the Swedish celiac disease epidemic. METHODS: A population-based incident case-referent study (475 cases, 950 referents) with exposure information obtained via a questionnaire (including family characteristics, infant feeding, and the child’s general health) was performed. Celiac disease cases were diagnosed before two years of age, fulfilling the diagnostic criteria of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Referents were randomly selected from the national population register after fulfilling matching criteria. The final analyses included 954 children, 373 (79%) cases and 581 (61%) referents, with complete information on main variables of interest in a matched set of one case with one or two referents. RESULTS: Having three or more parental-reported infectious episodes, regardless of type of infection, during the first six months of life was associated with a significantly increased risk for later celiac disease, and this remained after adjusting for infant feeding and socioeconomic status (odds ratio [OR] 1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-2.0; P=0.014). The celiac disease risk increased synergistically if, in addition to having several infectious episodes, infants were introduced to dietary gluten in large amounts, compared to small or medium amounts, after breastfeeding was discontinued (OR 5.6; 95% CI, 3.1-10; P<0.001). CONCLUSION: This study suggests that having repeated infectious episodes early in life increases the risk for later celiac disease. In addition, we found a synergistic effect between early infections and daily amount of gluten intake, more pronounced among infants for whom breastfeeding had been discontinued prior to gluten introduction. Regarding contribution to the Swedish celiac disease epidemic, which partly was attributed to concurrent changes in infant feeding, early infections probably made a minor contribution via the synergistic effect with gluten amount.

Concepts: Transmission and infection of H5N1, Medicine, Infant, Epidemiology, Coeliac disease, Nutrition, Infection, Infectious disease

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Lévy flights are scale-free (fractal) search patterns found in a wide range of animals. They can be an advantageous strategy promoting high encounter rates with rare cues that may indicate prey items, mating partners or navigational landmarks. The robustness of this behavioural strategy to ubiquitous threats to animal performance, such as pathogens, remains poorly understood. Using honeybees radar-tracked during their orientation flights in a novel landscape, we assess for the first time how two emerging infectious diseases (Nosema sp. and the Varroa-associated Deformed wing virus (DWV)) affect bees' behavioural performance and search strategy. Nosema infection, unlike DWV, affected the spatial scale of orientation flights, causing significantly shorter and more compact flights. However, in stark contrast to disease-dependent temporal fractals, we find the same prevalence of optimal Lévy flight characteristics (μ ≈ 2) in both healthy and infected bees. We discuss the ecological and evolutionary implications of these surprising insights, arguing that Lévy search patterns are an emergent property of fundamental characteristics of neuronal and sensory components of the decision-making process, making them robust against diverse physiological effects of pathogen infection and possibly other stressors.

Concepts: Transmission and infection of H5N1, Bacteria, Emergence, Honey bee, Microbiology, Infectious disease, Disease, Infection

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The unprecedented scale of the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa (2014-2015) has prompted an explosion of efforts to understand the transmission dynamics of the virus and to analyze the performance of possible containment strategies. Models have focused primarily on the reproductive numbers of the disease that represent the average number of secondary infections produced by a random infectious individual. However, these population-level estimates may conflate important systematic variation in the number of cases generated by infected individuals, particularly found in spatially localized transmission and superspreading events. Although superspreading features prominently in first-hand narratives of Ebola transmission, its dynamics have not been systematically characterized, hindering refinements of future epidemic predictions and explorations of targeted interventions. We used Bayesian model inference to integrate individual-level spatial information with other epidemiological data of community-based (undetected within clinical-care systems) cases and to explicitly infer distribution of the cases generated by each infected individual. Our results show that superspreaders play a key role in sustaining onward transmission of the epidemic, and they are responsible for a significant proportion ([Formula: see text]61%) of the infections. Our results also suggest age as a key demographic predictor for superspreading. We also show that community-based cases may have progressed more rapidly than those notified within clinical-care systems, and most transmission events occurred in a relatively short distance (with median value of 2.51 km). Our results stress the importance of characterizing superspreading of Ebola, enhance our current understanding of its spatiotemporal dynamics, and highlight the potential importance of targeted control measures.

Concepts: Inference, West Africa, Logic, Africa, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Infectious disease, Infection, Epidemiology

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BACKGROUND: Dogs are the main reservoir hosts of , the agent of human zoonotic visceral leishmaniosis. This study investigated the efficacy of a polymer matrix collar containing a combination of 10% imidacloprid and 4.5% flumethrin as a novel prophylactic measure to prevent infections in young dogs from a hyper-endemic area of southern Italy, with a view towards enhancing current control strategies against both human and canine leishmaniosis. METHODOLOGYPRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The study was carried out on 124 young dogs, of which 63 were collared (Group A) while 61 were left untreated (Group B), from March-April 2011 until March 2012. Blood and skin samples were collected at baseline (April 2011) and at the first, second, third and fourth follow-up time points (July, September 2011 and November 2011, and March 2012, respectively). Bone marrow and conjunctiva were sampled at baseline and at the fourth follow-up. Serological, cytological and molecular tests were performed to detect the presence of in the different tissues collected. At the end of the trial, no dog from Group A proved positive for at any follow-up, whereas 22 dogs from Group B were infected (incidence density rate = 45.1%); therefore, the combination of 10% imidacloprid and 4.5% flumethrin was 100% efficacious for the prevention of infection in young dogs prior to their first exposure to the parasite in a hyper-endemic area for CanL. CONCLUSIONS: The use of collars containing 10% imidacloprid and 4.5% flumethrin conferred long-term protection against infection by to dogs located in a hyper-endemic area, thus representing a reliable and sustainable strategy to decrease the frequency and spread of this disease among the canine population which will ultimately result in the reduction of associated risks to human health.

Concepts: 2011, Disease, Immune system, Bone marrow, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Collar, Infection

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BACKGROUND: The prevalence of infection with the three common soil-transmitted helminths (i.e. Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm) in Bolivia is among the highest in Latin America. However, the spatial distribution and burden of soil-transmitted helminthiasis are poorly documented. METHODS: We analysed historical survey data using Bayesian geostatistical models to identify determinants of the distribution of soil-transmitted helminth infections, predict the geographical distribution of infection risk, and assess treatment needs and costs in the frame of preventive chemotherapy. Rigorous geostatistical variable selection identified the most important predictors of A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura and hookworm transmission. RESULTS: Results show that precipitation during the wettest quarter above 400 mm favours the distribution of A. lumbricoides. Altitude has a negative effect on T. trichiura. Hookworm is sensitive to temperature during the coldest month. We estimate that 38.0%, 19.3% and 11.4% of the Bolivian population is infected with A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura and hookworm, respectively. Assuming independence of the infections, 48.4% of the population is infected with any soil-transmitted helminth. Empirical-based estimates, according to treatment recommendations by the World Health Organization, suggest a total of 2.9 million annualised treatments for the control of soil-transmitted helminthiasis in Bolivia. CONCLUSIONS: We provide estimates of soil-transmitted helminth infections in Bolivia based on high-resolution spatial prediction and an innovative variable selection approach. However, the scarcity of the data suggests that a national survey is required for more accurate mapping that will govern spatial targeting of soil-transmitted helminthiasis control.

Concepts: Transmission and infection of H5N1, Whipworm, Prediction, Infection, Nematodes, Parasitic animals, Parasitic worm, Hookworm

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HIV-1 infection is enhanced by adhesive structures that form between infected and uninfected T cells called virological synapses (VSs). This mode of transmission results in the frequent co-transmission of multiple copies of HIV-1 across the VS, which can reduce sensitivity to antiretroviral drugs. Studying HIV-1 infection of humanized mice, we measured the frequency of co-transmission and the spatiotemporal organization of infected cells as indicators of cell-to-cell transmission in vivo. When inoculating mice with cells co-infected with two viral genotypes, we observed high levels of co-transmission to target cells. Additionally, micro-anatomical clustering of viral genotypes within lymphoid tissue indicates that viral spread is driven by local processes and not a diffuse viral cloud. Intravital splenic imaging reveals that anchored HIV-infected cells induce arrest of interacting, uninfected CD4(+) T cells to form Env-dependent cell-cell conjugates. These findings suggest that HIV-1 spread between immune cells can be anatomically localized into infectious clusters.

Concepts: Organ, Immune system, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Infection, White blood cell, Spleen, Lymphatic system, HIV