Owing to the potential role of the tick Amblyomma cooperi in the enzootic cycle of Rickettsia rickettsii, the etiologic agent of Brazilian spotted fever (BSF), this study evaluated infection by Rickettsia species in A. cooperi ticks collected from an area in Brazil where BSF is endemic. Among a total of 40 A. cooperi adult ticks collected in an area of BSF endemicity in the state of São Paulo, PCR analysis detected DNA of Rickettsia bellii in 16 ticks (40%), and 3 other ticks (7.5%) were positive for a previously unidentified spotted-fever-group (SFG) rickettsia. Cultivation in Vero cell cultures by the shell vial technique with individual A. cooperi ticks resulted in two isolates of R. bellii and one isolate genotypically characterized as an SFG rickettsia. The two R. bellii isolates were established in Vero cell cultures in the laboratory and were confirmed to be R. bellii by molecular analysis of the gltA and 17-kDa protein-encoding genes and by electron microscopic analysis. The SFG rickettsial isolate could not be stably passaged in cell culture in the laboratory, but molecular analysis of early passages suggested that it was closely related to Rickettsia parkeri, Rickettsia africae, and Rickettsia sibirica. These results do not support the role of A. cooperi in the ecology of R. rickettsii in the area studied, but they add two more species of rickettsiae to the poorly developed list of species occurring in ticks in South America.
Infections by the protozoan parasiteToxoplasma gondiiare widely prevalent in humans and animals in Brazil. The burden of clinical toxoplasmosis in humans is considered to be very high. The high prevalence and encouragement of the Brazilian Government provides a unique opportunity for international groups to study the epidemiology and control of toxoplasmosis in Brazil. Many early papers on toxoplasmosis in Brazil were published in Portuguese and often not available to scientists in English-speaking countries. In the present paper we review prevalence, clinical spectrum, molecular epidemiology, and control ofT. gondiiin humans and animals in Brazil. This knowledge should be useful to biologists, public health workers, veterinarians, and physicians. Brazil has a very high rate ofT. gondiiinfection in humans. Up to 50% of elementary school children and 50–80% of women of child-bearing age have antibodies toT. gondii. The risks for uninfected women to acquire toxoplasmosis during pregnancy and fetal transmission are high because the environment is highly contaminated with oocysts. The burden of toxoplasmosis in congenitally infected children is also very high. From limited data on screening of infants forT. gondiiIgM at birth, 5–23 children are born infected per 10 000 live births in Brazil. Based on an estimate of 1 infected child per 1000 births, 2649 children with congenital toxoplasmosis are likely to be born annually in Brazil. Most of these infected children are likely to develop symptoms or signs of clinical toxoplasmosis. Among the congenitally infected children whose clinical data are described in this review, several died soon after birth, 35% had neurological disease including hydrocephalus, microcephaly and mental retardation, 80% had ocular lesions, and in one report 40% of children had hearing loss. The severity of clinical toxoplasmosis in Brazilian children may be associated with the genetic characteristics ofT. gondiiisolates prevailing in animals and humans in Brazil.
Toxoplasma gondii is among the most prevalent parasites worldwide, infecting many wild and domestic animals and causing zoonotic infections in humans. T. gondii differs substantially in its broad distribution from closely related parasites that typically have narrow, specialized host ranges. To elucidate the genetic basis for these differences, we compared the genomes of 62 globally distributed T. gondii isolates to several closely related coccidian parasites. Our findings reveal that tandem amplification and diversification of secretory pathogenesis determinants is the primary feature that distinguishes the closely related genomes of these biologically diverse parasites. We further show that the unusual population structure of T. gondii is characterized by clade-specific inheritance of large conserved haploblocks that are significantly enriched in tandemly clustered secretory pathogenesis determinants. The shared inheritance of these conserved haploblocks, which show a different ancestry than the genome as a whole, may thus influence transmission, host range and pathogenicity.
In recent years, an extensive collection of Toxoplasma gondii samples have been typed using a set of 10 PCR-RFLP genetic markers. Here we summarize the data reported until the end of 2012. A total of 1457 samples were typed into 189 genotypes. Overall, only a few genotypes dominate in the northern hemisphere, which is in stark contrast to the southern hemisphere where hundreds of genotypes coexist with none being notably dominant. PCR-RFLP genotype #1 (Type II clonal), #2 (Type III), #3 (Type II variant) and #10 (Type I) are identified globally. Genotypes #2 and #3 dominate in Africa, genotypes #9 (Chinese 1) and #10 are prevalent in Asia, genotypes #1, #2 and #3 are prevalent in Europe, genotypes #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 dominate in North America (#4 and #5 are collectively known as Type 12). In Central and South America, there is no clear dominance of any genotype even though a few have relatively higher frequencies. Statistical analysis indicates significant differences among populations in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Central and South America, with only Europe and North America exhibiting similar diversity. Collectively, the results revealed distinct population structures and geographical patterns of diversity in T. gondii.
Context. Optical long-baseline interferometry is moving a crucial step forward with the advent of general-user scientific instruments that equip large aperture and hectometric baseline facilities, such as the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Aims. AMBER is one of the VLTI instruments that combines up to three beams with low, moderate and high spectral resolutions in order to provide milli-arcsecond spatial resolution for compact astrophysical sources in the near-infrared wavelength domain. Its main specifications are based on three key programs on young stellar objects, active galactic nuclei central regions, masses, and spectra of hot extra-solar planets. Methods. These key science goals led to scientific specifications, which were used to propose and then validate the instrument concept. AMBER uses single-mode fibers to filter the entrance signal and to reach highly accurate, multiaxial three-beam combination, yielding three baselines and a closure phase, three spectral dispersive elements, and specific self-calibration procedures. Results. The AMBER measurements yield spectrally dispersed calibrated visibilities, color-differential complex visibilities, and a closure phase allows astronomers to contemplate rudimentary imaging and highly accurate visibility and phase differential measurements. AMBER was installed in 2004 at the Paranal Observatory. We describe here the present implementation of the instrument in the configuration with which the astronomical community can access it. Conclusions. After two years of commissioning tests and preliminary observations, AMBER has produced its first refereed publications, allowing assessment of its scientific potential.
In serum samples obtained from all the healthy humans, horses, dogs, and donkeys present on three farms in the Pedreira Municipality, an endemic area for Brazilian spotted fever, an indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) detected antibodies against Rickettsia rickettsii in 17 (77.3%) horses, 5 (31.3%) dogs (titers ranging from 64 to 4,048), and none of 4 donkeys or 50 humans. Five canine and eight equine sera with high antibody titers to R. rickettsii were also tested by IFA against R. bellii, R. akari, and R. africae antigens. Sera from two horses and two dogs that showed similar high antibody titers against two rickettsial antigens were evaluated after cross-absorption. Sera from seven horses and two dogs contained antibodies specific for R. rickettsii, and one dog serum had antibodies against a Rickettsia species very closely related to R. africae. The latter may have been caused by infection with the recently identified COOPERI strain.
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