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News roundup

This news roundup is a collection of headlines and other items on neglected tropical diseases, and does not reflect the work or the views of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.



Lymphatic filariasis

Mosquitoes in air these days can cause filaria, says report

Yusra Husainl
The Times of India
The monthly insect character report from the Lucknow Health Department for March says that the infected Culex mosquito is responsible for spreading filaria, commonly known as elephantiasis. The report, compiled from the four wards of the city, states Culex is the predominant species in the air currently. Other mosquito species including the ones that spread dengue, malaria and chikungunya have not been found.

Surveillance for lymphatic filariasis after stopping mass drug administration in endemic districts of Togo, 2010–2015

Monique Ameyo Dorkenoo et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Togo is a country previously endemic for lymphatic filariasis (LF). In 2010, following nine years of mass drug administration (MDA) for LF, the country established a post-treatment surveillance (PTS) system. We present here the results of these PTS activities, carried out from 2010 to 2015, as well as the findings of follow-up investigations in 2016 to confirm the absence of infection in previously infected individuals.

Arthropod Communities in Phytotelmata of the Musacae, Lauraceae and Burseraceae

M. Aline E. Noutcha, Onengiye Taylor Harry, Kingsley O. Isang and Samuel N. Okiwelu
Public Health Research
Larval source management (LSM) has been advocated as an additional strategy for malaria and lymphatic filariasis control in West Africa. Elimination of all potential breeding sites could significantly reduce the number of infective bites per person per year (Entomological Inoculation Rate, EIR), thereby reducing malaria and filariasis transmissions.


Laboratory Magnifies Ethiopia’s River Blindness Work

The Carter Center
A laboratory capable of conducting state-of-the-art serological (i.e., blood) and entomological (insect) testing was essential to Ethiopia’s shift from merely trying to control the disease to trying to eliminate it, said Dr. Zerihun Tadesse, the Carter Center’s country director in Ethiopia. That paradigm shift meant changing mass treatment with Mectizan® (donated by Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA) from once per year to twice per year, multiplying the cost of the program, Tadesse explained. That greater investment necessitated more accurate targeting of treatment areas, which the new laboratory makes possible.


Hemodynamic Changes in the Intra-Hepatic Circulation of Hepatosplenic Schistosomiasis: the Role of Hepatic Artery

Bernardo Times de Carvalho and Ana Lucia Coutinho
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Research
The purpose of this analytical review is to describe the pathophysiology of schistosomal liver disease, with special attention to intra-hepatic vascular alterations regarding the hepatic artery . . . Various studies indicate a direct involvement of the hepatic artery to maintain a constant total liver flow, while others show little arterial involvement, assigning the maintenance of hepatic blood flow exclusively through to portal overflow. The authors believe this is an interesting field for future research in order to solve the intriguing pathophysiology of hepatic schistosomiasis.

Design, synthesis and anthelmintic activity of 7-keto-sempervirol analogues

Alessandra Crusco et al.
European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
The plant-derived, diterpenoid 7-keto-sempervirol was recently reported to display moderate activity against larval stages of Schistosoma mansoni (IC50 = 19.1 μM) and Fasciola hepatica (IC50 = 17.7 μM), two related parasitic blood and liver flukes responsible for the neglected tropical diseases schistosomiasis and fascioliasis, respectively. Here, the research team aimed to increase the potency of 7-keto-sempervirol by total synthesis of 30 structural analogues.

Functional Studies of T Regulatory Lymphocytes in Human Schistosomiasis in Western Kenya

Bartholomew N. Ondigo et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Immunoregulation is considered a common feature of Schistosoma mansoni infections, and elevated levels of T regulatory (Treg) lymphocytes have been reported during chronic human schistosomiasis. We now report that the removal of Treg (CD4+/CD25hi/CD127low lymphocytes) from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of S. mansoni–infected individuals leads to increased levels of phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated interferon gamma (IFNγ) production and decreased interleukin-10 (IL-10) responses.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Review of the 2017 WHO Guideline: Preventive chemotherapy to control STH infections in at-risk population

Lorenzo Savioli et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
On 29 September 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a new Guideline on the implementation of preventive chemotherapy (PC) programmes for the control of soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) infections . . . The international community needs the strong leadership of WHO to generate pragmatic guidance towards reaching the NTDs UN SDGs by 2030.

Viewpoint on the review by Savioli and colleagues on the 2017 WHO guideline on STH infections in at-risk population groups

Antonio Montresor et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
We thank the authors of the review for their attention to the work of [the World Health Organization, or] WHO and for their broad agreement with the conclusions of this guideline. While we recognize that they have concerns with the widely accepted methods used by WHO to develop evidence-informed guidelines, we nonetheless look forward to working with all of our partners to decrease the global burden of [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STHs and other neglected tropical diseases.

Ancient DNA from latrines in Northern Europe and the Middle East (500 BC–1700 AD) reveals past parasites and diet

Martin Jensen Søe et al.
High-resolution insight into parasitic infections and diet of past populations in Northern Europe and the Middle East (500 BC- 1700 AD) was obtained by pre-concentration of parasite eggs from ancient latrines and deposits followed by shotgun sequencing of DNA . . . the reconstruction of full mitochondrial parasite genomes from whipworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and roundworm species (Trichuris trichiura and Trichuris muris) and estimates of haplotype frequencies elucidates the genetic diversity and provides insights into epidemiology and parasite biology.


Developing a new vaccine to protect against Trachoma: TRACVAC

London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research
Trachoma is caused by conjunctional infection by the C. trachomatis bacteria. TRACVAC are working on a new vaccine that uses proteins taken from C. trachomatis to enable a person to produce antibodies that will neutralize an infection before it takes hold. The proteins are selected by taking samples from individuals in The Gambia and Tanzania who do develop immunity to the infection and precisely identifying the areas of the proteins that are recognized.

Immunological basis of scarring trachoma

London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research
A team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is seeking to identify why some people are more likely to develop chronic inflammation as a result from ocular C. trachomatis infection and also identify the key disease pathways that result in scarring of the eye. Dr Tamsyn Derrick explains how this research may help us to develop treatments or vaccines to interrupt transmission and ultimately eliminate the disease.

People, not statistics: A last check for trachoma in Nepal

Nabin Baral
Watch and read the stories from survey team members and residents of Gorkha to find out what this survey and getting rid of trachoma will mean for the people of Nepal.

Aiming to eliminate trachoma in Kenya by 2019

CBM Kenya
Today, CBM joined the Ministry of Health and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (The Trust) in launching the Kenya Trachoma Elimination Programme at Serena Hotel in the capital Nairobi. In his opening remarks, the Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi, said that trachoma was responsible for the high rate of absenteeism in primary schools, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. His sentiments were also echoed by the Health Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Macharia, as he emphasized that, “this is a huge economic drain to these already poor and marginalized peoples."


Seeing the Faces: Why Social Science is Important in the Fight Against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Caroline Kusi
Seeing the faces means that we, as researchers and global health practitioners, must address the barriers to acceptability, accessibility, and availability of treatment; and ensure that at-risk groups realize their right to health. Seeing the faces means taking the time to understand who is being missed and why.

Health minister reviews status of vector-borne diseases ahead of monsoons

Pooja Biraia Jaiswal
The Week (India)
On Friday, J.P. Nadda, Union minister of health and family welfare, reviewed the status of vector-borne diseases and the preparation of states via a video conference in Delhi, in the presence of health secretaries and senior officials of the states. Nadda emphasised the need for early preparedness in managing vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, Kala-azar, Chikungunya and Lymphatic Filariasis, before the onset of the monsoons in the country.


Leprosy Vaccine Candidate Moves Into Human Trials

Don Ward Hackett
Precision Vaccinations
A new animal study published in Nature indicates that post-exposure prophylaxis with LepVax, a leprosy vaccine candidate, not only appears safe but, unlike the existing tuberculosis vaccine (BSG), provides some protection against leprosy, and alleviates the neurologic disruptions caused by Mycobacterium leprae infection in nine-banded armadillos. This study’s data supported a successful Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, allowing advancement of LepVax into a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans in the U.S.

LepVax, a defined subunit vaccine that provides effective pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis of M. leprae infection

Malcom S Duthie et al.
npj Vaccines
Armadillos were infected with M. leprae 1 month before the initiation of post-exposure prophylaxis. The impact of post-exposure immunization was then assessed in nine-banded armadillos that demonstrate a functional recapitulation of leprosy. Importantly, LepVax immunization did not exacerbate cutaneous nerve involvement due to M. leprae infection, indicating its safe use.

Chiana Health Center In Urgent Need Of Snake Vaccines

Modern Ghana
Management of the Chiana Health Centre (CHC) in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region, have appealed to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to as a matter of urgency provide anti-snake vaccines to treat victims of snake bites. The facility serves about 825 communities annually and records high cases of snake bites and therefore the needed to stock the facility with some vaccines as the farming season got close. The situation has become worrying to residents, farmers and traders who do business in the Chiana town and its immediate environment.

Pakistan: Hundreds of leishmaniasis cases reported in Mohmand Agency

Outbreak News Today
Officials in Pakistan’s Mohmand Agency are reporting a surge in infections with the parasite, Leishmania (leishmaniasis), according to a Daily Times report. To date, some 732 leishmaniasis cases have been reported from all three tehsils of Mohmand Agency. The Agency’s surgeon Dr Alamgir Khan said that a special emergency treatment campaign was conducted from April 14-16, 2018 to administer the first dose of treatment to the infected individuals which are mainly children.

Perception and incidence of Buruli ulcer in Ogun State, South West Nigeria

Patricia Ihuaku Otuh et al.
PanAfrican Medical Journal
This pilot study presents baseline information on Buruli ulcer (BU) in a rural setting in Ogun State South-west Nigeria hence the vital need for prompt public health involvement and further research on the epidemiology of BU. data collected revealed 27 hospital confirmed BU cases between 2009-2012 across four [local government areas, or] LGAs while 14% (21/150) chronic ulcers (suspected to be BU) were discovered during the cross-sectional survey carried out in Odeda, Yewa South and North LGAs.

Clinical trial to find new treatment for kala-azar begins in eastern Africa

Lillian Namusoke Magezi
New Vision (Uganda)
A clinical trial to evaluate new treatment and improved diagnostic tools for kala-azar, a condition categorized under neglected tropical diseases, has begun in Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. The trial is also expected to begin in Uganda soon.

[VIDEO] A home test for Zika? CRISPR may make it possible

Jon Cohen
CRISPR, the powerful genome editor, may one day be used to detect infections or cancers in blood samples. Three papers published this week in Science show how CRISPR-based systems dubbed DETECTR and SHERLOCK distinguished the Zika virus from the closely related dengue virus in samples, as well as the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

Fake drugs are one reason malaria still kills so many

Jackson Thomas, Erin Walker, Gregory Peterson and Mark Naunton
The Conversation
Our research on the pharmaceutical industry has revealed that one reason for malaria’s continued virulence in the developing world is ineffective medicine. In fact, in some poor African countries, many malaria drugs are actually expired, substandard or fake. Globally, some 200,000 preventable deaths occur each year due to anti-malarial drugs that do not work. Substandard and counterfeit medicines may be responsible for up to 116,000 malaria deaths annually in sub-Saharan Africa alone, according to recent World Health Organization estimates.

Podcast: how the CHAMPS project is using informatics to fight childhood mortality

Piper Hale
Public Health Informatics Institute
The Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network is an ambitious global project that seeks to reduce childhood mortality around the world by identifying what exactly is killing children under five. Project partners have established surveillance sites in seven countries across south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to determine causes of death for children in those catchment areas. Informatics is crucial to this project, as the informatics office provides the core infrastructure for transporting and housing key health data. Senior Manager for Information Technology Patrick Caneer, recently sat down with us to walk me through how the [Public Health Informatics Institute, or] PHII and its partners manage data for CHAMPS.

Upcoming Events

8th International Conference of the International Lymphoedema Framework
June 6-9, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The principal topics for the conference will include: clinical diagnosis and assessment, self-management, epidemiology and pathophysiology, lymphoedema management, oncology rehab, national guidelines, outcome measures, and pediatric and primary lymphedema.

Update Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Traveler's Health
June 12-13, New Orleans, Louisiana
American Society for Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
ASTMH has developed this course as an update in the essential components of tropical medicine and traveller's health. This two day meeting is designed for physicians and for all other health care providers working in tropical medicine or traveler's health. 

GAELF10 Meeting
June 13-15, New Delhi, India
The 10th Meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF)

Snakebite: From Science to Society
June 21-22, Leiden, the Netherlands
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Naturalis organises a 2-day international conference ‘Snakebite : from science to society’ to draw attention to a devastating, neglected tropical disease and to ignite international action on snakebite prevention and treatment. By bringing together science, government, industry and societal & humanitarian aid organisations, we want to take the first steps in developing solutions for the issues concerning snakebites in the tropics.

June 25-26, London, UK
ISNTD d3 will bring togther experts from within drug discovery and clinical trials to drive the debate and foster new partnerships & alliances leading to tangible outcomes in terms of new therapies to combat these diseases.

ITI Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting
June 26-28, Atlanta, Georgia
International Trachoma Initiative's Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting is an independent body of internationally recognized experts that meets twice annually to review country applications for donations of Zithromax®. 

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5,  Melbourne, Australia
The inaugural World Congress on Malaria - Eradicate Malaria 2018 - will bring together the broad global community including implementers, scientists, funders, governments, policy makers and those directly affected by the disease. The aim is to bring the broad spectrum of the malaria world together for the first time, to further galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.

5th International Conference on Neglected Tropical & Infectious Diseases
August 29-30,  Boston, Massachussetts
Theme: Uniting all to overcome and fight against NTD's & infectious diseases for improved health protection.

NNN 2018 
September 24-26, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We are delighted to announce the dates for the 9th NNN annual conference, subject to venue availability.

10th Euro-Global Conference on Infectious Diseases
September 27-29, Rome, Italy
Theme: Advancing in science and improving care to prevent infectious diseases.

International Conference on Migration Health
October 1-3, Rome, Italy
Hosted by the international Society of Travel Medicine.

67th Annual ASTMH Meeting 
October 28 - November 1, New Orleans, Louisiana
The ASTMH Annual Meeting draws tropical medicine and global health professionals representing academia, government, non-profits, philanthropy, NGOs, industry, military and private practice. The meeting is designed for researchers, professors, government and public health officials, military personnel, travel clinic physicians, practicing physicians in tropical medicine, students and all health care providers working in the fields of tropical medicine, hygiene and global health. 

7th Global Scabies Control Meeting
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
We are pleased to announce the date for the 7th Global Scabies Control meeting. The meeting will be held on Sunday 28th October in New Orleans, LA, USA. Please mark this in your diaries now! Further information and registration details will follow in coming months. 

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2019, Vancouver, Canada
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference – the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls – will serve as a fueling station for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. In the summer of 2019, over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists will flock to Vancouver with dreams of accelerating progress girls and women everywhere.