From an analysis of the distributions of measures of transmission rates among hosts, we identify an empirical relationship suggesting that, typically, 20% of the host population contributes at least 80% of the net transmission potential, as measured by the basic reproduction number, R 0 . This is an example of a statistical pattern known as the 20͞80 rule. The rule applies to a variety of disease systems, including vector-borne parasites and sexually transmitted pathogens. The rule implies that control programs targeted at the ''core'' 20% group are potentially highly effective and, conversely, that programs that fail to reach all of this group will be much less effective than expected in reducing levels of infection in the population as a whole.
S U M M A R YZoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (ZVL) caused by Leishmania infantum is an important disease of humans and dogs. Here we review aspects of the transmission and control of ZVL. Whilst there is clear evidence that ZVL is maintained by sandfly transmission, transmission may also occur by non-sandfly routes, such as congenital and sexual transmission. Dogs are the only confirmed primary reservoir of infection. Meta-analysis of dog studies confirms that infectiousness is higher in symptomatic infection ; infectiousness is also higher in European than South American studies. A high prevalence of infection has been reported from an increasing number of domestic and wild mammals ; updated host ranges are provided. The crab-eating fox Cerdocyon thous, opossums Didelphis spp., domestic cat Felis cattus, black rat Rattus rattus and humans can infect sandflies, but confirmation of these hosts as primary or secondary reservoirs requires further xenodiagnosis studies at the population level. Thus the putative sylvatic reservoir(s) of ZVL remains unknown. Review of intervention studies examining the effectiveness of current control methods highlights the lack of randomized controlled trials of both dog culling and residual insecticide spraying. Topical insecticides (deltamethrin-impregnated collars and pour-ons) have been shown to provide a high level of individual protection to treated dogs, but further community-level studies are needed.
The elimination of seropositive dogs in Brazil has been used to control zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis but with little success. To elucidate the reasons for this, the infectiousness of 50 sentinel dogs exposed to natural Leishmania chagasi infection was assessed through time by xenodiagnosis with the sandfly vector, Lutzomyia longipalpis. Eighteen (43%) of 42 infected dogs became infectious after a median of 333 days in the field (105 days after seroconversion). Seven highly infectious dogs (17%) accounted for>80% of sandfly infections. There were positive correlations between infectiousness and anti-Leishmania immunoglobulin G, parasite detection by polymerase chain reaction, and clinical disease (logistic regression, r2=0.08-0.18). The sensitivity of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect currently infectious dogs was high (96%) but lower in the latent period (<63%), and specificity was low (24%). Mathematical modeling suggests that culling programs fail because of high incidence of infection and infectiousness, the insensitivity of the diagnostic test to detect infectious dogs, and time delays between diagnosis and culling.
Cytokine and proliferative responses to Necator americanus infection were measured in a treatment-reinfection study of infected subjects from an area of Papua New Guinea where N. americanus is highly endemic. Before treatment, most subjects produced detectable interleukin (IL)-4 (97%), IL-5 (86%), and interferon (IFN)- gamma (64%) in response to adult N. americanus antigen. Pretreatment IFN- gamma responses were negatively associated with hookworm burden, decreasing by 18 pg/mL for each increase of 1000 eggs/gram (epg) (n=75; P<.01). Mean IFN- gamma responses increased significantly after anthelmintic treatment, from 166 to 322 pg/mL (n=42; P<.01). The intensity of reinfection was significantly negatively correlated with pretreatment IL-5 responses, decreasing by 551 epg for each 100 pg/mL increase in production of IL-5 (n=51; P<.01). These data indicate that there is a mixed cytokine response in necatoriasis, with worm burden-associated suppression of IFN- gamma responses to adult N. americanus antigen. Resistance to reinfection is associated with the parasite-specific IL-5 response.
Allergic diseases are rare in areas with high helminth parasite exposure and common where helminth exposure is lacking or significantly reduced, such as urban areas of developing countries and industrialized nations. Studies suggest that helminths induce a systemic immuno-modulatory network, including regulatory T cells and anti-inflammatory IL-10, which might play a key role in the protection against the allergic phenotype. Here, we review the current cross-sectional, birth cohort, and intervention study evidence for a protective effect of helminth infection on allergy. There is increasing evidence for a causal relationship between helminth infection and reduced skin prick test responsiveness to allergens. Cross-sectional studies have shown a consistent negative relationship, and these results have been confirmed in several, although not all, intervention studies. The immunological basis for this protective effect is less clear. Recent studies do not support the mast-cell IgE saturation hypothesis, but suggest that protection is associated with IL-10 production. As for allergic disease, cross-sectional studies support a negative relationship between clinical asthma and infection with some helminth species, particularly hookworm, but more studies are required to draw conclusions for eczema and rhinitis. In addition, none of the few intervention studies to date have demonstrated an increase in clinical allergy after helminth treatment, and further studies are needed. Furthermore, we are only beginning to understand the host genetic factors that are potentially involved. A genetically predetermined T-helper type 2 cell-dominated cytokine milieu reduces parasite burden and may enhance host survival in an environment where helminth parasites are prevalent. Lack of parasite exposure in such hosts might lead to hypersensitivity to seemingly minor environmental allergen stimuli. Large birth cohort studies in helminth-endemic areas that use epidemiological, genetic, and immunological tools are required to further examine how helminth parasites affect the development of atopy and allergic disease. Intervention studies with hookworm in parasite-naïve allergic individuals are currently ongoing in the United Kingdom to test the above hypotheses further.
BackgroundThe relationships between heterogeneities in host infection and infectiousness (transmission to arthropod vectors) can provide important insights for disease management. Here, we quantify heterogeneities in Leishmania infantum parasite numbers in reservoir and non-reservoir host populations, and relate this to their infectiousness during natural infection. Tissue parasite number was evaluated as a potential surrogate marker of host transmission potential.MethodsParasite numbers were measured by qPCR in bone marrow and ear skin biopsies of 82 dogs and 34 crab-eating foxes collected during a longitudinal study in Amazon Brazil, for which previous data was available on infectiousness (by xenodiagnosis) and severity of infection.ResultsParasite numbers were highly aggregated both between samples and between individuals. In dogs, total parasite abundance and relative numbers in ear skin compared to bone marrow increased with the duration and severity of infection. Infectiousness to the sandfly vector was associated with high parasite numbers; parasite number in skin was the best predictor of being infectious. Crab-eating foxes, which typically present asymptomatic infection and are non-infectious, had parasite numbers comparable to those of non-infectious dogs.ConclusionsSkin parasite number provides an indirect marker of infectiousness, and could allow targeted control particularly of highly infectious dogs.
The sensitivity and specificity of PCR, serology (ELISA) and lymphoproliferative response to Leishmania antigen for the detection of Leishmania infantum infection were evaluated in a cohort of 126 dogs exposed to natural infection in Brazil. For PCR, Leishmania DNA from bone-marrow was amplified with both minicircle and ribosomal primers. The infection status and time of infection of each dog were estimated from longitudinal data. The sensitivity of PCR in parasite-positive samples was 98 %. However, the overall sensitivity of PCR in post-infection samples, from dogs with confirmed infection, was only 68 %. The sensitivity of PCR varied during the course of infection, being highest (78-88 %) 0-135 days postinfection and declining to around 50 % after 300 days. The sensitivity of PCR also varied between dogs, and was highest in sick dogs. The sensitivity of serology was similar in parasite-positive (84 %), PCR-positive (86 %) and post-infection (88 %) samples. The sensitivity of serology varied during the course of infection, being lowest at the time of infection and high (93-100 %) thereafter. Problems in determining the specificity of serology are discussed. The sensitivity and specificity of cellular responsiveness were low. These data suggest that PCR is most useful in detecting active or symptomatic infection, and that serology can be a more sensitive technique for the detection of all infected dogs.
A significant reduction in worm burden over a 12-month period in helminth-infected children increases the risk of allergen skin sensitization but not of clinical allergic disease. The effect on skin sensitization could not be fully explained by any of the immunological parameters tested.
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