Identifying the factors underlying the origin and maintenance of the latitudinal diversity gradient is a central problem in ecology, but no consensus has emerged on which processes might generate this broad pattern. Interestingly, the vast majority of studies exploring the gradient have focused on free-living organisms, ignoring parasitic and infectious disease (PID) species. Here, we address the influence of environmental factors on the biological diversity of human pathogens and their global spatial organization. Using generalized linear multivariate models and Monte Carlo simulations, we conducted a series of comparative analyses to test the hypothesis that human PIDs exhibit the same global patterns of distribution as other taxonomic groups. We found a significant negative relationship between latitude and PID species richness, and a nested spatial organization, i.e., the accumulation of PID species with latitude, over large spatial scales. Additionally, our results show that climatic factors are of primary importance in explaining the link between latitude and the spatial pattern of human pathogens. Based on our findings, we propose that the global latitudinal species diversity gradient might be generated in large part by biotic interactions, providing strong support for the idea that current estimates of species diversity are substantially underestimated. When parasites and pathogens are included, estimates of total species diversity may increase by more than an order of magnitude.
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA; known as MHC in other vertebrates) plays a central role in the recognition and presentation of antigens to the immune system and represents the most polymorphic gene cluster in the human genome . Pathogen-driven balancing selection (PDBS) has been previously hypothesized to explain the remarkable polymorphism in the HLA complex, but there is, as yet, no direct support for this hypothesis [2 and 3]. A straightforward prediction coming out of the PDBS hypothesis is that populations from areas with high pathogen diversity should have increased HLA diversity in relation to their average genomic diversity. We tested this prediction by using HLA class I genetic diversity from 61 human populations. Our results show that human colonization history explains a substantial proportion of HLA genetic diversity worldwide. However, between-population variation at the HLA class I genes is also positively correlated with local pathogen richness (notably for the HLA B gene), thus providing support for the PDBS hypothesis. The proportion of variations explained by pathogen richness is higher for the HLA B gene than for the HLA A and HLA C genes. This is in good agreement with both previous immunological and genetic data suggesting that HLA B could be under a higher selective pressure from pathogens.
BackgroundChikungunya virus (CHIKV) caused a major two-wave seventeen-month-long outbreak in La Réunion Island in 2005–2006. The aim of this study was to refine clinical estimates provided by a regional surveillance-system using a two-stage serological assessment as gold standard.MethodsTwo serosurveys were implemented: first, a rapid survey using stored sera of pregnant women, in order to assess the attack rate at the epidemic upsurge (s1, February 2006; n = 888); second, a population-based survey among a random sample of the community, to assess the herd immunity in the post-epidemic era (s2, October 2006; n = 2442). Sera were screened for anti-CHIKV specific antibodies (IgM and IgG in s1, IgG only in s2) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Seroprevalence rates were compared to clinical estimates of attack rates.ResultsIn s1, 18.2% of the pregnant women were tested positive for CHIKV specific antibodies (13.8% for both IgM and IgG, 4.3% for IgM, 0.1% for IgG only) which provided a congruent estimate with the 16.5% attack rate calculated from the surveillance-system. In s2, the seroprevalence in community was estimated to 38.2% (95% CI, 35.9 to 40.6%). Extrapolations of seroprevalence rates led to estimate, at 143,000 and at 300,000 (95% CI, 283,000 to 320,000), the number of people infected in s1 and in s2, respectively. In comparison, the surveillance-system estimated at 130,000 and 266,000 the number of people infected for the same periods.ConclusionA rapid serosurvey in pregnant women can be helpful to assess the attack rate when large seroprevalence studies cannot be done. On the other hand, a population-based serosurvey is useful to refine the estimate when clinical diagnosis underestimates it. Our findings give valuable insights to assess the herd immunity along the course of epidemics.
Globalization has facilitated the spread of numerous infectious agents to all corners of the planet. Analysis of the Global Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Network (GIDEON) database quantitatively illustrates that the globalization of human infectious agents depends significantly on the range of hosts used. Infectious agents specific to humans are broadly and uniformly distributed, whereas zoonotic infectious agents are far more localized in their geographical distribution. Moreover, these patterns vary depending on transmission mode and infectious agent taxonomy. This dichotomy is unlikely to persist if certain aspects of globalization (for example, exotic species introductions) continue unabated. This raises a serious concern for public health and leaves nations with the task of determining the infectious agents that have the greatest potential to establish within their borders. At the advent of a century characterized by an apparent increase in emerging infectious diseases, these results have critical implications for public-health policy and future research pathways of infectious disease ecology.
BackgroundAlthough leptospirosis is a zoonosis of major concern on tropical islands, the molecular epidemiology of the disease aiming at linking human cases to specific animal reservoirs has been rarely explored within these peculiar ecosystems.Methodology/Principal FindingsFive species of wild small mammals (n = 995) as well as domestic animals (n = 101) were screened for Leptospira infection on Reunion Island; positive samples were subsequently genotyped and compared to Leptospira from clinical cases diagnosed in 2012–2013 (n = 66), using MLST analysis. We identified two pathogenic species in human cases, namely Leptospira interrogans and Leptospira borgpetersenii. Leptospira interrogans was by far dominant both in clinical samples (96.6%) and in infected animal samples (95.8%), with Rattus spp and dogs being its exclusive carriers. The genetic diversity within L. interrogans was apparently limited to two sequence types (STs): ST02, identified among most clinical samples and in all rats with complete MLST, and ST34, identified in six humans, but not in rats. Noteworthy, L. interrogans detected in two stray dogs partially matched with ST02 and ST34. Leptospira borgpetersenii was identified in two clinical samples only (3.4%), as well as in cows and mice; four haplotypes were identified, of which two seemingly identical in clinical and animal samples. Leptospira borgpetersenii haplotypes detected in human cases were clearly distinct from the lineage detected so far in the endemic bat species Mormopterus francoismoutoui, thus excluding a role for this volant mammal in the local human epidemiology of the disease.Conclusions/SignificanceOur data confirm rats as a major reservoir of Leptospira on Reunion Island, but also pinpoint a possible role of dogs, cows and mice in the local epidemiology of human leptospirosis. This study shows that a comprehensive molecular characterization of pathogenic Leptospira in both clinical and animal samples helps to gaining insight into leptospirosis epidemiology within a specific environmental setting.
BackgroundThe Pacific Islands have environmental conditions highly favourable for transmission of leptospirosis, a neglected zoonosis with highest incidence in the tropics, and Oceania in particular. Recent reports confirm the emergence and outbreaks of leptospirosis in the Pacific Islands, but the epidemiology and drivers of transmission of human and animal leptospirosis are poorly documented, especially in the more isolated and less developed islands.Methodology/Principal findingsWe conducted a systematic review of human and animal leptospirosis within 25 Pacific Islands (PIs) in Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, as well as Easter Island and Hawaii. We performed a literature search using four international databases for articles published between January 1947 and June 2017. We further included grey literature available on the internet. We identified 148 studies describing leptospirosis epidemiology, but the number of studies varied significantly between PIs. No data were available from four PIs. Human leptospirosis has been reported from 13 PIs, with 63% of all studies conducted in Hawaii, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. Animal leptospirosis has been investigated in 19 PIs and from 14 host species, mainly pigs (18% of studies), cattle (16%) and dogs (11%). Only 13 studies provided information on both human and animal leptospirosis from the same location. Serology results were highly diverse in the region, both in humans and animals.Conclusions/SignificanceOur study suggests that, as in other tropical regions, leptospirosis is widespread in the PIs while showing some epidemiological heterogeneity. Data are scarce or absent from many PIs. Rodents, cattle, pigs and dogs are all likely to be important carriers, but the relative importance of each animal species in human infection needs to be clarified. Epidemiological surveys with appropriate sampling design, pathogen typing and data analysis are needed to improve our understanding of transmission patterns and to develop effective intervention strategies.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease of global importance. A large spectrum of asymptomatic animal hosts can carry the infection and contribute to the burden of human disease. Environmental sources of human contamination also point to the importance of a hydrotelluric reservoir. Leptospirosis can be caused by as many as 15 different pathogenic or intermediate Leptospira species. However, classification of these bacteria remains complicated through the use of both serological and genetic classification systems that show poor correlation. With the advent of molecular techniques, DNA-based barcoding offers a conceptual framework that can be used for leptospirosis surveillance as well as source tracking. In this review, we summarize some of the current techniques, highlight significant successes and weaknesses and point to the future opportunities and challenges to successfully establish a widely applicable barcoding scheme for Leptospira.
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