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Journal: PLoS neglected tropical diseases


Rabies is a notoriously underreported and neglected disease of low-income countries. This study aims to estimate the public health and economic burden of rabies circulating in domestic dog populations, globally and on a country-by-country basis, allowing an objective assessment of how much this preventable disease costs endemic countries.

Concepts: Epidemiology, World Bank, Dog health, Hookworm, Fox


The rapid spread of Zika virus in the Americas and current outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil has raised attention to the possible deleterious effects that the virus may have on fetuses.

Concepts: Fertility, Abortion, São Paulo, German language, Americas, Latin America, Hydrops fetalis, Rh disease


We have examined the remains of a Pilgrim burial from St Mary Magdalen, Winchester. The individual was a young adult male, aged around 18-25 years at the time of death. Radiocarbon dating showed the remains dated to the late 11th-early 12th centuries, a time when pilgrimages were at their height in Europe. Several lines of evidence in connection with the burial suggested this was an individual of some means and prestige. Although buried within the leprosarium cemetery, the skeleton showed only minimal skeletal evidence for leprosy, which was confined to the bones of the feet and legs. Nonetheless, molecular testing of several skeletal elements, including uninvolved bones all showed robust evidence of DNA from Mycobacterium leprae, consistent with the lepromatous or multibacillary form of the disease. We infer that in life, this individual almost certainly suffered with multiple soft tissue lesions. Genotyping of the M.leprae strain showed this belonged to the 2F lineage, today associated with cases from South-Central and Western Asia. During osteological examination it was noted that the cranium and facial features displayed atypical morphology for northern European populations. Subsequently, geochemical isotopic analyses carried out on tooth enamel indicated that this individual was indeed not local to the Winchester region, although it was not possible to be more specific about their geographic origin.

Concepts: Bone, Mycobacterium, Isotope, Skeleton, Leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, The Passion of the Christ, Mary Magdalene


Dengue poses a substantial economic and disease burden in Southeast Asia (SEA). Quantifying this burden is critical to set policy priorities and disease-control strategies.

Concepts: Southeast Asia, Dengue


Open source drug discovery offers potential for developing new and inexpensive drugs to combat diseases that disproportionally affect the poor. The concept borrows two principle aspects from open source computing (i.e., collaboration and open access) and applies them to pharmaceutical innovation. By opening a project to external contributors, its research capacity may increase significantly. To date there are only a handful of open source R&D projects focusing on neglected diseases. We wanted to learn from these first movers, their successes and failures, in order to generate a better understanding of how a much-discussed theoretical concept works in practice and may be implemented.

Concepts: Scientific method, Pharmacology, Drug, Pharmaceutical drug, Knowledge, Open source, Open content, Concepts


The simian parasite Plasmodium knowlesi is a common cause of human malaria in Malaysian Borneo and threatens the prospect of malaria elimination. However, little is known about the emergence of P. knowlesi, particularly in Sabah. We reviewed Sabah Department of Health records to investigate the trend of each malaria species over time.

Concepts: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Anopheles, Apicomplexa, Malaysia, Plasmodium knowlesi


Dengue fever affects over a 100 million people annually hence is one of the world’s most important vector-borne diseases. The transmission area of this disease continues to expand due to many direct and indirect factors linked to urban sprawl, increased travel and global warming. Current preventative measures include mosquito control programs, yet due to the complex nature of the disease and the increased importation risk along with the lack of efficient prophylactic measures, successful disease control and elimination is not realistic in the foreseeable future. Epidemiological models attempt to predict future outbreaks using information on the risk factors of the disease. Through a systematic literature review, this paper aims at analyzing the different modeling methods and their outputs in terms of acting as an early warning system. We found that many previous studies have not sufficiently accounted for the spatio-temporal features of the disease in the modeling process. Yet with advances in technology, the ability to incorporate such information as well as the socio-environmental aspect allowed for its use as an early warning system, albeit limited geographically to a local scale.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Dengue fever, Warning system, Warning systems


Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, persists as a public health problem in several sub-Saharan countries. Evidence-based, spatially explicit estimates of population at risk are needed to inform planning and implementation of field interventions, monitor disease trends, raise awareness and support advocacy. Comprehensive, geo-referenced epidemiological records from HAT-affected countries were combined with human population layers to map five categories of risk, ranging from “very high” to “very low,” and to estimate the corresponding at-risk population.

Concepts: Health, Epidemiology, Statistics, Mathematics, Demography, African trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness


Trichinellosis is a typical food-borne zoonotic disease which is epidemic worldwide and the nematode Trichinella spiralis is the main pathogen. The life cycle of T. spiralis contains three developmental stages, i.e. adult worms, new borne larva (new borne L1 larva) and muscular larva (infective L1 larva). Stage-specific gene expression in the parasites has been investigated with various immunological and cDNA cloning approaches, whereas the genome-wide transcriptome and expression features of the parasite have been largely unknown. The availability of the genome sequence information of T. spiralis has made it possible to deeply dissect parasite biology in association with global gene expression and pathogenesis.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Bacteria, Organism, Trichinella spiralis


The increasing burden of dengue, and the relative failure of traditional vector control programs highlight the need to develop new control methods. SIT using self-limiting genetic technology is one such promising method. A self-limiting strain of Aedes aegypti, OX513A, has already reached the stage of field evaluation. Sustained releases of OX513A Ae. aegypti males led to 80% suppression of a target wild Ae. aegypti population in the Cayman Islands in 2010. Here we describe sustained series of field releases of OX513A Ae. aegypti males in a suburb of Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil. This study spanned over a year and reduced the local Ae. aegypti population by 95% (95% CI: 92.2%-97.5%) based on adult trap data and 81% (95% CI: 74.9-85.2%) based on ovitrap indices compared to the adjacent no-release control area. The mating competitiveness of the released males (0.031; 95% CI: 0.025-0.036) was similar to that estimated in the Cayman trials (0.059; 95% CI: 0.011 - 0.210), indicating that environmental and target-strain differences had little impact on the mating success of the OX513A males. We conclude that sustained release of OX513A males may be an effective and widely useful method for suppression of the key dengue vector Ae. aegypti. The observed level of suppression would likely be sufficient to prevent dengue epidemics in the locality tested and other areas with similar or lower transmission.

Concepts: Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Release, Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman