Application of real-time PCR in Ghana, a Buruli ulcer-endemic country, confirms the presence of Mycobacterium ulcerans in the environment.
ABSTRACT This study reports the first successful application of real-time PCR for the detection of Mycobacterium ulcerans, the causative agent of Buruli ulcer (BU), in Ghana, a BU-endemic country. Environmental samples and organs of small mammals were analyzed. The real-time PCR assays confirmed the presence of M. ulcerans in a water sample collected in a BU-endemic village in the Ashanti Region.
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ABSTRACT: Ghana is a Buruli ulcer (BU) endemic country yet there is paucity of socio-cultural research on BU. Examining distinctive experiences and meanings for pre-ulcers and ulcers of BU may clarify the disease burden, illness experience and local perceptions of causes and spread, and environmental features of BU, which are useful to guide public health programmes and future research. This study aimed to explain local meanings and experiences of BU for persons with pre-ulcers and ulcers in the Ga-West and Ga-South municipalities in Accra. Semi-structured interviews based on the Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue framework were administered to 181 respondents comprising 15 respondents with pre-ulcers and 166 respondents with ulcers. The Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used to compare categories of illness experiences (PD) and perceived causes (PC) among respondents with pre-ulcer and ulcer conditions. The Fisher's exact test was used to compare the most troubling PD and the most important PC variables. Qualitative phenomenological analysis of respondents' narratives clarified illness experiences and meanings with reference to PC and PD variables. Families of respondents with pre-ulcers and the respondents themselves were often anxious about disease progression, while families of respondents with ulcers, who had to give care, worried about income loss and disruption of school attendance. Respondents with pre-ulcers frequently reported swimming in ponds and rivers as a perceived cause and considered it as the most important PC (53.3%). Respondents with ulcers frequently attributed their BU illness to witchcraft (64.5%) and respondents who claimed they had no water contact, questioned the credibility of health messages Affected persons with pre-ulcers are likely to delay treatment because of social and financial constraints and the absence of pain. Scepticism on the role of water in disease contagion and prolonged healing is perceived to make ideas of witchcraft as a PC more credible, among respondents with ulcers. Health messages should address issues of locally perceived risk and vulnerability. Guided by study findings, further research on the role of environmental, socio-cultural and genetic factors in BU contagion, is also needed to clarify and formulate health messages and strengthen public health initiatives.BMC Public Health 04/2012; 12:264. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium ulcerans is the causative agent of Buruli ulcer (BU), a destructive skin disease found predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa and south-eastern Australia. The precise mode(s) of transmission and environmental reservoir(s) remain unknown, but several studies have explored the role of aquatic invertebrate species. The purpose of this study was to investigate the environmental distribution of M. ulcerans in south-eastern Australia. A range of environmental samples was collected from Point Lonsdale (a small coastal town southwest of Melbourne, Australia, endemic for BU) and from areas with fewer or no reported incident cases of BU. Mycobacterium ulcerans DNA was detected at low levels by real-time PCR in soil, sediment, water residue, aquatic plant biofilm and terrestrial vegetation collected in Point Lonsdale. Higher levels of M. ulcerans DNA were detected in the faeces of common ringtail (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) and common brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula) possums. Systematic testing of possum faeces revealed that M. ulcerans DNA could be detected in 41% of faecal samples collected in Point Lonsdale compared with less than 1% of faecal samples collected from non-endemic areas (p<0.0001). Capture and clinical examination of live possums in Point Lonsdale validated the accuracy of the predictive value of the faecal surveys by revealing that 38% of ringtail possums and 24% of brushtail possums had laboratory-confirmed M. ulcerans skin lesions and/or M. ulcerans PCR positive faeces. Whole genome sequencing revealed an extremely close genetic relationship between human and possum M. ulcerans isolates. The prevailing wisdom is that M. ulcerans is an aquatic pathogen and that BU is acquired by contact with certain aquatic environments (swamps, slow-flowing water). Now, after 70 years of research, we propose a transmission model for BU in which terrestrial mammals are implicated as reservoirs for M. ulcerans.PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 01/2010; 4(8):e791. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium ulcerans is the causative agent of Buruli ulcer (BU). In West Africa there is an association between BU and residence in low-lying rural villages where aquatic sources are plentiful. Infection occurs through unknown environmental exposure; human-to-human infection is rare. Molecular evidence for M. ulcerans in environmental samples is well documented, but the association of M. ulcerans in the environment with Buruli ulcer has not been studied in West Africa in an area with accurate case data. Environmental samples were collected from twenty-five villages in three communes of Benin. Sites sampled included 12 BU endemic villages within the Ouheme and Couffo River drainages and 13 villages near the Mono River and along the coast or ridge where BU has never been identified. Triplicate water filtrand samples from major water sources and samples from three dominant aquatic plant species were collected. Detection of M. ulcerans was based on quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Results show a significant association between M. ulcerans in environmental samples and Buruli ulcer cases in a village (p = 0.0001). A "dose response" was observed in that increasing numbers of M. ulceran- positive environmental samples were associated with increasing prevalence of BU cases (R(2) = 0.586). This study provides the first spatial data on the overlap of M. ulcerans in the environment and BU cases in Benin where case data are based on active surveillance. The study also provides the first evidence on M. ulcerans in well-defined non-endemic sites. Most environmental pathogens are more broadly distributed in the environment than in human populations. The congruence of M. ulcerans in the environment and human infection raises the possibility that humans play a role in the ecology of M. ulcerans. Methods developed could be useful for identifying new areas where humans may be at high risk for BU.PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 01/2012; 6(1):e1506. · 4.57 Impact Factor