Onchocerciasis is a debilitating neglected tropical disease caused by infection with the filarial parasite Onchocerca volvulus. Adult worms live in subcutaneous tissues and produce large numbers of microfilariae that migrate to the skin and eyes. The disease is spread by black flies of the genus Simulium following ingestion of microfilariae that develop into infective stage larvae in the insect. Currently, transmission is monitored by capture and dissection of black flies and microscopic examination of parasites, or using the polymerase chain reaction to determine the presence of parasite DNA in pools of black flies. In this study we identified a new DNA biomarker, encoding O. volvulus glutathione S-transferase 1a (OvGST1a), to detect O. volvulus infection in vector black flies. We developed an OvGST1a-based loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay where amplification of specific target DNA is detectable using turbidity or by a hydroxy naphthol blue color change. The results indicated that the assay is sensitive and rapid, capable of detecting DNA equivalent to less than one microfilaria within 60 minutes. The test is highly specific for the human parasite, as no cross-reaction was detected using DNA from the closely related and sympatric cattle parasite Onchocerca ochengi. The test has the potential to be developed further as a field tool for use in the surveillance of transmission before and after implementation of mass drug administration programs for onchocerciasis.
Human babesiosis is caused by one of several babesial species transmitted by ixodid ticks that have distinct geographical distributions based on the presence of competent animal hosts. The pathology of babesiosis, like malaria, is a consequence of the parasitaemia which develops through the cyclical replication of Babesia parasites in a patient's red blood cells, though symptoms typically are nonspecific. We have identified the gene encoding Rhoptry-Associated Protein -1 (RAP-1) from a human isolate of B. divergens, Rouen1987 and characterized its protein product at the molecular and cellular level. Consistent with other Babesia RAP-1 homologues, BdRAP-1 is expressed as a 46 kDa protein in the parasite rhoptries, suggesting a possible role in red cell invasion. Native BdRAP-1 binds to an unidentified red cell receptor(s) that appears to be non-sialylated and non-proteinacious in nature, but we do not find significant reduction in growth with anti-rRAP1 antibodies in vitro, highlighting the possibility the B. divergens is able to use alternative pathways for invasion, or there is an alternative, complementary, role for BdRAP-1 during the invasion process. As it is the parasite's ability to recognize and then invade host cells which is central to clinical disease, characterising and understanding the role of Babesia-derived proteins involved in these steps are of great interest for the development of an effective prophylaxis.
In the present study, we screened blood DNA samples obtained from cattle bred in Brazil (n=164) and Ghana (n=80) for Babesia bovis using a diagnostic PCR assay and found prevalences of 14.6% and 46.3%, respectively. Subsequently, the genetic diversity of B. bovis in Thailand, Brazil and Ghana was analyzed, based on the DNA sequence of merozoite surface antigen-1 (MSA-1). In Thailand, MSA-1 sequences were relatively conserved and found in a single clade of the phylogram, while Brazilian MSA-1 sequences showed high genetic diversity and were dispersed across three different clades. In contrast, the sequences from Ghanaian samples were detected in two different clades, one of which contained only a single Ghanaian sequence. The identities among the MSA-1 sequences from Thailand, Brazil and Ghana were 99.0-100%, 57.5-99.4% and 60.3-100%, respectively, while the similarities among the deduced MSA-1 amino acid sequences within the respective countries were 98.4-100%, 59.4-99.7% and 58.7-100%, respectively. These observations suggested that the genetic diversity of B. bovis based on MSA-1 sequences was higher in Brazil and Ghana than in Thailand. The current data highlight the importance of conducting extensive studies on the genetic diversity of B. bovis before designing immune control strategies in each surveyed country.
Understanding the evolutionary relationships of Trypanosoma (Duttonella) vivax genotypes between West Africa and Southern Africa can provide information on the epidemiology and control of trypanosomosis. Cattle blood samples from Zambia and Ghana were screened for T. vivax infection using specie-specific PCR and sequencing analysis. Substantial polymorphism was obtained from phylogenetic analysis of sequences of cathepsin L-like catalytic domains. T. vivax from Ghana clustered together with West African and South American sequences, while T. vivax from Zambia formed one distinct clade and clustered with East African and Southern African sequences. This study suggests existence of distinct genetic diversity between T. vivax genotypes from West Africa and Zambia as per their geographical origins.
Babesia represents one of the major infectious threats to the blood supply since clinically silent infections in humans are common and these can be life-threatening in certain recipients. It is important to understand the effect of blood storage conditions on the viability of Babesia as this will impact the occurrence and severity of transfusion-transmitted babesiosis.
Rabies virus (RABV) is enzootic throughout Africa, with the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) being the principal vector. Dog rabies is estimated to cause 24,000 human deaths per year in Africa, however, this estimate is still considered to be conservative. Two sub-Saharan African RABV lineages have been detected in West Africa. Lineage 2 is present throughout West Africa, whereas Africa 1a dominates in northern and eastern Africa, but has been detected in Nigeria and Gabon, and Africa 1b was previously absent from West Africa. We confirmed the presence of RABV in a cohort of 76 brain samples obtained from rabid animals in Ghana collected over an eighteen-month period (2007-2009). Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences obtained confirmed all viruses to be RABV, belonging to lineages previously detected in sub-Saharan Africa. However, unlike earlier reported studies that suggested a single lineage (Africa 2) circulates in West Africa, we identified viruses belonging to the Africa 2 lineage and both Africa 1 (a and b) sub-lineages. Phylogeographic Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo analysis of a 405 bp fragment of the RABV nucleoprotein gene from the 76 new sequences derived from Ghanaian animals suggest that within the Africa 2 lineage three clades co-circulate with their origins in other West African countries. Africa 1a is probably a western extension of a clade circulating in central Africa and the Africa 1b virus a probable recent introduction from eastern Africa. We also developed and tested a novel reverse-transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay for the detection of RABV in African laboratories. This RT-LAMP was shown to detect both Africa 1 and 2 viruses, including its adaptation to a lateral flow device format for product visualization. These data suggest that RABV epidemiology is more complex than previously thought in West Africa and that there have been repeated introductions of RABV into Ghana. This analysis highlights the potential problems of individual developing nations implementing rabies control programmes in the absence of a regional programme.
A truncated fragment of the gene encoding the 200-kDa protein (P200) of Babesia bigemina was cloned into a plasmid vector, pGEX-4 T-1 and expressed in Escherichia coli as a glutathione-S-transferase fused protein. An indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using the rp200/CT detected specific antibodies in cattle experimentally infected with B. bigemina. Furthermore, the antigen did not cross-react with antibodies to Babesia bovis, a closely related Babesia parasite indicating that rp200/CT is a specific antigen for the diagnosis of B. bigemina infection. Additionally, ELISA using p200/CT and polymerase chain reaction were conducted on serum and corresponding DNA samples obtained from field cattle to evaluate the diagnostic utility of the p200/CT antigen. Results from the current study suggest that p200/CT ELISA is a sensitive and specific method for improved serodiagnosis of B. bigemina infection.
Babesia ovata is a tick-transmitted hemoprotozoan parasite that infects cattle. In our study, bovine blood samples (n=2,034) were collected from 10 different countries (Brazil, China, Ghana, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) and DNA extracted. The DNA samples were screened using an established and specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay targeting the Apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA-1) gene. Parasite DNA was detected among samples collected from Japan, Mongolia and Thailand. Sequence analyses confirmed that the PCR assay detected only B. ovata AMA-1, and that amplicons from different geographical locations were conserved. Our findings highlight the importance of designing adequate strategies to control B. ovata infection in Japan, Mongolia, and Thailand.
African trypanosomes are extracellular protozoan parasites that are transmitted between mammalian hosts by the bite of an infected tsetse fly. Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) or sleeping sickness is caused by Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense or T. brucei gambiense, while African Animal Trypanosomiasis (AAT) is caused mainly by T. vivax, T. congolense, T. simiae,T. evansi and T. brucei brucei. Trypanosomiasis is of public health importance in humans and is also the major constraint for livestock productivity in sub-Saharan African countries. Scanty information exists about the trypanosomiasis status in Ghana especially regarding molecular epidemiology. Therefore, this study intended to apply molecular tools to identify and characterize trypanosomes in Ghana.
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