[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Human alveolar echinococcocosis (AE) is a highly pathogenic zoonotic disease caused by the larval stage of the cestode E. multilocularis. Its life-cycle includes more than 40 species of small mammal intermediate hosts. Therefore, host biodiversity losses could be expected to alter transmission. Climate may also have possible impacts on E. multilocularis egg survival. We examined the distribution of human AE across two spatial scales, (i) for continental China and (ii) over the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau. We tested the hypotheses that human disease distribution can be explained by either the biodiversity of small mammal intermediate host species, or by environmental factors such as climate or landscape characteristics. METHODOLOGYFINDINGS: The distributions of 274 small mammal species were mapped to 967 point locations on a grid covering continental China. Land cover, elevation, monthly rainfall and temperature were mapped using remotely sensed imagery and compared to the distribution of human AE disease at continental scale and over the eastern Tibetan plateau. Infection status of 17,589 people screened by abdominal ultrasound in 2002-2008 in 94 villages of Tibetan areas of western Sichuan and Qinghai provinces was analyzed using generalized additive mixed models and related to epidemiological and environmental covariates. We found that human AE was not directly correlated with small mammal reservoir host species richness, but rather was spatially correlated with landscape features and climate which could confirm and predict human disease hotspots over a 200,000 km(2) region. CONCLUSIONSSIGNIFICANCE: E. multilocularis transmission and resultant human disease risk was better predicted from landscape features that could support increases of small mammal host species prone to population outbreaks, rather than host species richness. We anticipate that our study may be a starting point for further research wherein landscape management could be used to predict human disease risk and for controlling this zoonotic helminthic.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP, in western China), which is the largest and highest plateau on Earth, is a highly epidemic region for Echinococcus spp. We collected 70 Echinococcus samples from humans, dogs, sheep, yaks, plateau pikas, and voles in eastern and southern Qinghai and genotyped them using the mitochondrial DNA marker cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene and maximum parsimony and Bayesian reconstruction methods. Based on the 792-bp sequence matrix, we recorded 124 variable sites, of which, 115 were parsimony-informative. Thirty-four haplotypes (H1-H34) were detected, of which H1-H15, H16-H17, and H18-H34 belonged to Echinococcus shiquicus, Echinococcus multilocularis, and Echinococcus granulosus, respectively. Within 26 human isolates, three were identified as E. multilocularis and 23 were E. granulosus. We also detected a dual infection case in a dog with E. multilocularis and E. granulosus. The intraspecific haplotype (Hd ± SD) and nucleotide (Nd ± SD) diversity of E. shiquicus (0.947 ± 0.021; 0.00441 ± 0.00062) was higher than that for E. granulosus (0.896 ± 0.038; 0.00221 ± 0.00031) and E. multilocularis (0.286 ± 0.196; 0.00036 ± 0.00025). Moreover, the haplotype network of E. shiquicus showed a radial feature rather than a divergent feature in a previous study, indicating this species in the QTP has also evolved with bottleneck effects.
Parasitology Research 01/2012; 111(1):179-84. · 2.85 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cystic echinococcosis (CE) or hydatid disease is known to be cosmopolitan in its global distribution, while alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is a much rarer though more pathogenic hepatic parasitic disease restricted to the northern hemisphere. Both forms of human echinococcosis are known to occur on the Tibetan Plateau, but the epidemiological characteristics remain poorly understood. In our current study, abdominal ultrasound screening programs for echinococcosis were conducted in 31 Tibetan townships in Ganze and Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures of northwest Sichuan Province during 2001-2008. Hospital records (1992-2006) in a major regional treatment centre for echinococcosis in Sichuan Province were also reviewed. Of 10,186 local residents examined by portable ultrasound scan, 645 (6.3%) were diagnosed with echinococcosis: a prevalence of 3.2% for CE, 3.1% for AE and 0.04% for dual infection (both CE and AE). Human cystic and alveolar echinococcosis in pastoral areas was highly co-endemic, in comparison to much lower prevalences in semi-pastoral or farming regions. The high ultrasound prevalence in these co-endemic areas in northwest Sichuan Province was also reflected in the hospital study, and hospital records furthermore indicated another possible highly co-endemic focus in Guoluo Prefecture of Qinghai Province, located at the border of northwest Sichuan. These chronic cestode zoonoses constitute an unparalleled major public health problem for pastoral Tibetan communities, and pose great difficulties for adequate treatment access and effective transmission control in such remote regions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genetic polymorphisms of Echinococcus spp. in the eastern Tibetan Plateau and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region were evaluated by DNA sequencing analyses of genes for mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) and nuclear elongation factor-1 alpha (ef1a). We collected 68 isolates of Echinococcus granulosus sensu stricto (s.s.) from Xinjiang and 113 isolates of E. granulosus s. s., 49 isolates of Echinococcus multilocularis and 34 isolates of Echinococcus shiquicus from the Tibetan Plateau. The results of molecular identification by mitochondrial and nuclear markers were identical, suggesting the infrequency of introgressive hybridization. A considerable intraspecific variation was detected in mitochondrial cox1 sequences. The parsimonious network of cox1 haplotypes showed star-like features in E. granulosus s. s. and E. multilocularis, but a divergent feature in E. shiquicus. The cox1 neutrality indexes computed by Tajima's D and Fu's Fs tests showed high negative values in E. granulosus s. s. and E. multilocularis, indicating significant deviations from neutrality. In contrast, the low positive values of both tests were obtained in E. shiquicus. These results suggest the following hypotheses: (i) recent founder effects arose in E. granulosus and E. multilocularis after introducing particular individuals into the endemic areas by anthropogenic movement or natural migration of host mammals, and (ii) the ancestor of E. shiquicus was segregated into the Tibetan Plateau by colonising alpine mammals and its mitochondrial locus has evolved without bottleneck effects.
International journal for parasitology 09/2009; 40(3):379-85. · 3.39 Impact Factor