Ecologic Features of Plague Outbreak Areas, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2004-2014.
ABSTRACT: During 2004-2014, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared 54% of plague cases worldwide. Using national data, we characterized the epidemiology of human plague in DRC for this period. All 4,630 suspected human plague cases and 349 deaths recorded in DRC came from Orientale Province. Pneumonic plague cases (8.8% of total) occurred during 2 major outbreaks in mining camps in the equatorial forest, and some limited outbreaks occurred in the Ituri highlands. Epidemics originated in 5 health zones clustered in Ituri, where sporadic bubonic cases were recorded throughout every year. Classification and regression tree characterized this cluster by the dominance of ecosystem 40 (mountain tropical climate). In conclusion, a small, stable, endemic focus of plague in the highlands of the Ituri tropical region persisted, acting as a source of outbreaks in DRC.
Project description:UNLABELLED:A cluster of human plague cases occurred in the seaport city of Mahajanga, Madagascar, from 1991 to 1999 following 62 years with no evidence of plague, which offered insights into plague pathogen dynamics in an urban environment. We analyzed a set of 44 Mahajanga isolates from this 9-year outbreak, as well as an additional 218 Malagasy isolates from the highland foci. We sequenced the genomes of four Mahajanga strains, performed whole-genome sequence single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery on those strains, screened the discovered SNPs, and performed a high-resolution 43-locus multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis of the isolate panel. Twenty-two new SNPs were identified and defined a new phylogenetic lineage among the Malagasy isolates. Phylogeographic analysis suggests that the Mahajanga lineage likely originated in the Ambositra district in the highlands, spread throughout the northern central highlands, and was then introduced into and became transiently established in Mahajanga. Although multiple transfers between the central highlands and Mahajanga occurred, there was a locally differentiating and dominant subpopulation that was primarily responsible for the 1991-to-1999 Mahajanga outbreaks. Phylotemporal analysis of this Mahajanga subpopulation revealed a cycling pattern of diversity generation and loss that occurred during and after each outbreak. This pattern is consistent with severe interseasonal genetic bottlenecks along with large seasonal population expansions. The ultimate extinction of plague pathogens in Mahajanga suggests that, in this environment, the plague pathogen niche is tenuous at best. However, the temporary large pathogen population expansion provides the means for plague pathogens to disperse and become ecologically established in more suitable nonurban environments. IMPORTANCE:Maritime spread of plague led to the global dissemination of this disease and affected the course of human history. Multiple historical plague waves resulted in massive human mortalities in three classical plague pandemics: Justinian (6th and 7th centuries), Middle Ages (14th to 17th centuries), and third (mid-1800s to the present). Key to these events was the pathogen's entry into new lands by "plague ships" via seaport cities. Although initial disease outbreaks in ports were common, they were almost never sustained for long and plague pathogens survived only if they could become established in ecologically suitable habitats. Although plague pathogens' ability to invade port cities has been essential for intercontinental spread, these regions have not proven to be a suitable long-term niche. The disease dynamics in port cities such as Mahajanga are thus critical to plague pathogen amplification and dispersal into new suitable ecological niches for the observed global long-term maintenance of plague pathogens.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>An increased prevalence of epilepsy has been reported in many onchocerciasis endemic areas. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of epilepsy in onchocerciasis endemic areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and investigate whether a higher annual intake of Ivermectin was associated with a lower prevalence of epilepsy.<h4>Methodology/principle findings</h4>Between July 2014 and February 2016, house-to-house epilepsy prevalence surveys were carried out in areas with a high level of onchocerciasis endemicity: 3 localities in the Bas-Uele, 24 in the Tshopo and 21 in the Ituri province. Ivermectin uptake was recorded for every household member. This database allowed a matched case-control pair subset to be created that enabled putative risk factors for epilepsy to be tested using univariate logistic regression models. Risk factors relating to onchocerciasis were tested using a multivariate random effects model. To identify presence of clusters of epilepsy cases, the Kulldorff's scan statistic was used. Of 12, 408 people examined in the different health areas 407 (3.3%) were found to have a history of epilepsy. A high prevalence of epilepsy was observed in health areas in the 3 provinces: 6.8-8.5% in Bas-Uele, 0.8-7.4% in Tshopo and 3.6-6.2% in Ituri. Median age of epilepsy onset was 9 years, and the modal age 12 years. The case control analysis demonstrated that before the appearance of epilepsy, compared to the same life period in controls, persons with epilepsy were around two times less likely (OR: 0.52; 95%CI: (0.28, 0.98)) to have taken Ivermectin than controls. After the appearance of epilepsy, there was no difference of Ivermectin intake between cases and controls. Only in Ituri, a significant cluster (p-value = 0.0001) was identified located around the Draju sample site area.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The prevalence of epilepsy in health areas in onchocerciasis endemic regions in the DRC was 2-10 times higher than in non-onchocerciasis endemic regions in Africa. Our data suggests that Ivermectin protects against epilepsy in an onchocerciasis endemic region. However, a prospective population based intervention study is needed to confirm this.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The distribution of human plague risk is strongly associated with rainfall in the tropical plague foci of East Africa, but little is known about how the plague bacterium is maintained during periods between outbreaks or whether environmental drivers trigger these outbreaks. We collected small mammals and fleas over a two year period in the West Nile region of Uganda to examine how the ecological community varies seasonally in a region with areas of both high and low risk of human plague cases. METHODS:Seasonal changes in the small mammal and flea communities were examined along an elevation gradient to determine whether small mammal and flea populations exhibit differences in their response to seasonal fluctuations in precipitation, temperature, and crop harvests in areas within (above 1300 m) and outside (below 1300 m) of a model-defined plague focus. RESULTS:The abundance of two potential enzootic host species (Arvicanthis niloticus and Crocidura spp.) increased during the plague season within the plague focus, but did not show the same increase at lower elevations outside this focus. In contrast, the abundance of the domestic rat population (Rattus rattus) did not show significant seasonal fluctuations regardless of locality. Arvicanthis niloticus abundance was negatively associated with monthly precipitation at a six month lag and positively associated with current monthly temperatures, and Crocidura spp. abundance was positively associated with precipitation at a three month lag and negatively associated with current monthly temperatures. The abundance of A. niloticus and Crocidura spp. were both positively correlated with the harvest of millet and maize. CONCLUSIONS:The association between the abundance of several small mammal species and rainfall is consistent with previous models of the timing of human plague cases in relation to precipitation in the West Nile region. The seasonal increase in the abundance of key potential host species within the plague focus, but not outside of this area, suggests that changes in small mammal abundance may create favorable conditions for epizootic transmission of Y. pestis which ultimately may increase risk of human cases in this region.
Project description:BACKGROUND:A high prevalence of epilepsy has been observed in onchocerciasis endemic areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With this study we aimed to investigate whether Onchocerca volvulus infection is a risk factor for developing epilepsy in onchocerciasis endemic regions in the DRC. METHODS:Between October and December 2015, a multi-centre case control study was performed in onchocerciasis endemic health zones (HZ) in the DRC: one study site was situated in Tshopo Province in the HZ of Wanierukula (village of Salambongo) where there had been 13 annual community distributions of treatment with ivermectin (CDTI), a second was situated in Ituri Province in the HZ of Logo (village of Draju) where ivermectin had never been distributed and in the HZ of Rethy (village of Rassia) where there had been THREE CDTI annual campaigns before the study. Individuals with unprovoked convulsive epilepsy of unknown etiology were enrolled as cases (n?=?175). Randomly selected healthy members of families without epilepsy cases from the same village and age-groups and were recruited as controls (n?=?170). RESULTS:Onchocerciasis associated symptoms (e.g., itching and abnormal skin) were more often present in cases compared to controls (respectively, OR?=?2.63, 95% CI: 1.63-4.23, P?<? 0.0001 and OR?=?3.23, 95% CI: 1.48-7.09, P?=?0.0034). A higher number of cases was found to present with microfilariae in skin snips and with O. volvulus IgG4 antibodies in the blood compared to controls. Moreover, the microfilariae load in skin snips was 3-10 times higher in cases than controls. CONCLUSIONS:This case control study confirms that O. volvulus is a risk factor for developing epilepsy in onchocerciasis endemic regions in the DRC.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The 2018-2019 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest ever recorded in the DRC. It has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The outbreak emerged in a region of chronic conflict and insecurity, and directed attacks against health care workers may have interfered with disease response activities. Our study characterizes and quantifies the broader conflict dynamics over the course of the outbreak by pairing epidemiological and all available spatial conflict data. METHODS:We build a set of conflict variables by mapping the spatial locations of all conflict events and their associated deaths in each of the affected health zones in North Kivu and Ituri, eastern DRC, before and during the outbreak. Using these data, we compare patterns of conflict before and during the outbreak in affected health zones and those not affected. We then test whether conflict is correlated with increased EVD transmission at the health zone level. FINDINGS:The incidence of conflict events per capita is ~?600 times more likely in Ituri and North Kivu than for the rest of the DRC. We identified 15 time periods of substantial uninterrupted transmission across 11 health zones and a total of 120 bi-weeks. We do not find significant short-term associations between the bi-week reproduction numbers and the number of conflicts. However, we do find that the incidence of conflict per capita was correlated with the incidence of EVD per capita at the health zone level for the entire outbreak (Pearson's r?=?0.33, 95% CI 0.05-0.57). In the two provinces, the monthly number of conflict events also increased by a factor of 2.7 in Ebola-affected health zones (p value <?0.05) compared to 2.0 where no transmission was reported and 1.3 in the rest of the DRC, in the period between February 2019 and July 2019. CONCLUSION:We characterized the association between variables documenting broad conflict levels and EVD transmission. Such assessment is important to understand if and how such conflict variables could be used to inform the outbreak response. We found that while these variables can help characterize long-term challenges and susceptibilities of the different regions they provide little insight on the short-term dynamics of EVD transmission.
Project description:Madagascar is more seriously affected by plague, a zoonosis caused by Yersinia pestis, than any other country. The Plague National Control Program was established in 1993 and includes human surveillance. During 1998-2016, a total of 13,234 suspected cases were recorded, mainly from the central highlands; 27% were confirmed cases, and 17% were presumptive cases. Patients with bubonic plague (median age 13 years) represented 93% of confirmed and presumptive cases, and patients with pneumonic plague (median age 29 years) represented 7%. Deaths were associated with delay of consultation, pneumonic form, contact with other cases, occurrence after 2009, and not reporting dead rats. A seasonal pattern was observed with recrudescence during September-March. Annual cases peaked in 2004 and decreased to the lowest incidence in 2016. This overall reduction occurred primarily for suspected cases and might be caused by improved adherence to case criteria during widespread implementation of the F1 rapid diagnostic test in 2002.
Project description:At the turn of the nineteenth century, yellow fever (YF) was considered the most dangerous infectious disease with high case fatality. Subsequent, mass vaccination campaigns coupled with widespread elimination of the YF mosquito vector significantly decreased YF cases and reduced outbreaks to the tropical and subtropical forested regions of Africa and South America. However, recent (2016) large outbreaks in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and South-Eastern Brazil, where previously had been demarcated as low-risk regions, have highlighted the possibility of a rapidly changing epidemiology and the potential re-emergence of yellow fever virus (YFV). Furthermore, the first-ever importation of YFV into Asia has highlighted the potential fear of YFV emerging as a global threat. In this review, we describe the changing epidemiology of YF outbreaks, and highlight the use of public health policies, therapeutics, and vaccination as tools to help eliminate future YFV outbreaks.
Project description:Purpose of Review:At the turn of the nineteenth century, yellow fever (YF) was considered the most dangerous infectious disease with high case fatality. Subsequent, mass vaccination campaigns coupled with widespread elimination of the YF mosquito vector significantly decreased YF cases and reduced outbreaks to the tropical and subtropical forested regions of Africa and South America. Recent Findings:However, recent (2016) large outbreaks in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and South-Eastern Brazil, where previously had been demarcated as low-risk regions, have highlighted the possibility of a rapidly changing epidemiology and the potential re-emergence of yellow fever virus (YFV). Furthermore, the first-ever importation of YFV into Asia has highlighted the potential fear of YFV emerging as a global threat. Summary:In this review, we describe the changing epidemiology of YF outbreaks and highlight the use of public health policies, therapeutics, and vaccination as tools to help eliminate future YFV outbreaks.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (Sd1) is a cause of major dysentery outbreaks, particularly among children and displaced populations in tropical countries. Although outbreaks continue, the characteristics of such outbreaks have rarely been documented. Here, we describe the Sd1 outbreaks occurring between 1993 and 1995 in 11 refugee settlements in Rwanda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We also explored the links between the different types of the camps and the magnitude of the outbreaks. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Number of cases of bloody diarrhea and deaths were collected on a weekly basis in 11 refugee camps, and analyzed retrospectively. Between November 1993 and February 1995, 181,921 cases of bloody diarrhea were reported. Attack rates ranged from 6.3% to 39.1% and case fatality ratios (CFRs) from 1.5% to 9.0% (available for 5 camps). The CFRs were higher in children under age 5. In Tanzania where the response was rapidly deployed, the mean attack rate was lower than in camps in the region of Goma without an immediate response (13.3% versus 32.1% respectively). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This description, and the areas where data is missing, highlight both the importance of collecting data in future epidemics, difficulties in documenting outbreaks occurring in complex emergencies and most importantly, the need to assure that minimal requirements are met.
Project description:BACKGROUND:An increased prevalence of epilepsy has been reported in many onchocerciasis endemic areas. OBJECTIVE:To determine the prevalence and distribution of epilepsy in an onchocerciasis endemic region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). DESIGN/METHODS:An epilepsy prevalence study was carried out in 2014, in two localities of the Bas-Uélé district, an onchocerciasis endemic region in the Orientale Province of the DRC. Risk factors for epilepsy were identified using a random effects logistic regression model and the distribution of epilepsy cases was investigated using the Moran's I statistic of spatial auto-correlation. RESULTS:Among the 12,776 individuals of Dingila, 373 (2.9%) individuals with epilepsy were identified. In a house-to-house survey in Titule, 68 (2.3%) of the 2,908 people who participated in the survey were found to present episodes of epilepsy. Epilepsy showed a marked spatial pattern with clustering of cases occurring within and between adjacent households. Individual risk of epilepsy was found to be associated with living close to the nearest fast flowing river where blackflies (Diptera: Simuliidae)-the vector of Onchocerca volvulus-oviposit and breed. CONCLUSIONS:The prevalence of epilepsy in villages in the Bas-Uélé district in the DRC was higher than in non-onchocerciasis endemic regions in Africa. Living close to a blackflies infested river was found to be a risk factor for epilepsy.