Questions related to Emerging Infectious Diseases
We have obtained some electron micrographs showing what appears to be developmental stages of some type of small eukaryotic organism colonizing/parasitizing the tissues of mammalian hosts. Samples tested included sterile deep needle aspirate of subcutaneous nodules, filtered lysed whole blood, and urine sediment. The hosts may have a unique genetic defect allowing them to become infected with eukaryotic parasites, or, the putative parasite may have efficient strategies for suppressing the hosts immune response.
We are curious about the identity of this possibly novel organism. None of us in the research group have more than basic knowledge of invertebrate taxonomy, but based on the presence of organized calcified “tube or shell”-like structures, we are hypothesizing that it may be some type of polychaete or mollusk? The opinion or thoughts of anyone skilled in such classification would be very appreciated. Thanks!
We are examining tissue from a cluster of human and canine patients with a similar pattern of systemic illness of unknown cause. All members of the cluster have evidence of motile zoospore-like objects in their blood and other tissue aspirates. Control wet-mount preps from healthy relatives of these patients do not show the presence of such motile objects.
Despite the tiny size of these motile objects, the “swimming” motion seems more consistent with the “falling leaf” forward motility pattern associated with a eukaryotic flagella than with bacterial motility patterns. Also, the staining patterns and SEM appearance of these objects appears more consistent with a eukaryote.
Preliminary sequencing studies have suggested sequence homology with stramnopile-type organisms. We are attempting to sequence cultured colonies of the organism but are having extremely low DNA yields despite robust growth of the organism in culture.
We would appreciate the opinion of those familiar with the morphology and zoospore motility of oomycete and related type organisms about the similarities and differences seen in these movies of motility in unstained, aseptically collected adipose tissue nodules from a patient in this cluster, suspected to be infected with a novel or emerging type of eukaryotic pathogen.
Hello, Our background is explained in the profile section- but we are a group of veterinarians/other scientists working on an unexpected research project that arose from observations of a cluster of illnesses among dogs and their owners in our veterinary practice. After thorough traditional work-up, we ruled out known causes of this constellation of symptoms and because of the seemingly transmissible nature of the illness, we began looking for perhaps a rare infection. We did find unexplainable objects in urine, cyst fluid, and subcutaneous nodules from the affected animals/humans- and did not see those same objects in blinded control studies using spouses/housemates of the affected individuals. It has taken a while to characterize the shape/properties of these objects since we were seeing them in the context of semi-degraded in tissue or tangled/broken up in urine samples. But now, we have retrieved enough reasonably intact samples to realize that they are large shell-shaped objects, resembling bivalves slightly, that contain long thin complex fibers as structural elements. The hinge/latch-like objects along the length of the fiber appear to bind to other elements in the internal contents of the "shell" and help keep them packaged and organized. I'm quoting "shell" because despite the marked resemblance to some bivalve shells, the shell portion is more dynamic. It can stretch and when the shell opens and the internal contents unfurl, the majority of the tissue forming the "shell" shape actually comes away in plumes of sheets of tissue that unfold in a very organized manner. Intriguingly, these sheets of tissue appear to contain a middle layer with a non-staining fibrous semi-liquid filling that may be mesoglea. The sheets of tissue are made up of connected small versions of almost exactly the same shell body plan as the larger organisms, and these small objects appear connected by a series of tubes that resemble stolons- leading us to wonder if the organism could be some type of hydrozoa or even myxozoan? I've attached a few new photos to demonstrate. We would appreciate any opinions at all about what the identity of these objects may be, and how we can optimize staining protocols +/- DNA extraction techniques to be able to get an identifying sequence for these probable organisms- though there will undoubtedly be some contamination with human/canine DNA.
I am a member of a group of veterinarians who all became ill within about a years time of each other, and who all were employed in the same physical location. Some of the affected veterinarians also had human and/or canine family members who also went on to develop a very similar illness to that seen in the cluster of veterinarians. The practice facility was inspected by OSHA and traditional medical work-up was done on all of those affected. No unifying etiology could be determined for the "syndrome" of illness described by those affected, but environmental chemicals and psychiatric causes were ruled out. As veterinarians and other types of scientists (affected family members), we recognized that the pattern of illness development appeared most consistent with some type of infectious process (possibly with genetic predispositions to resistance/succeptibility to the agent). The illness appeared to develop in unrelated people who worked at a common site initially, then multiple family members of some affected veterinarians developed a similar illness. Our familiarity with collecting/interpreting FNA/cytology samples allowed us to do some diagnostic tests that are not available in human reference laboratories, and with the encouragement of infectious disease physicians at Mayo and UCD medical centers we began some carefully controlled cytology tests on samples provided by those affected with the "syndrome" of illness, as well as samples from healthy control family members/colleagues.
What we have found is an incredibly consistent pattern of fibers/filaments, copiously present in the urine of those affected individuals, and completely absent in the healthy controls. Initially we suspected the filaments to be a possible nematode, but further tests demonstrated that there were also more fragile yeast-like objects and highly organized fruiting-body-like structures associated with the filaments. We also found the filaments and "spores" in subcutaneous nodules, cyst fluid, sputum, and blood cultures from those affected. These details, along with positive staining for chitin by lactophenol cotton blue and calcofluor-white, and positive staining for a thick mucopolysaccharide coat by Alacian Blue- led us to modify the hypothesis and consider that these objects could indicate a fungal or pseudofungal infection.
Many permutations of cytology tests (always coupled with control studies of the same tissues in healthy counterparts) have led us to suspect that we may be seeing some type of oomycete, somewhat similar to Pythium or Lagenisma. We have attempted sequencing, but not gotten consistent results and/or have gotten reports of sequences that are either truncated or reported as different types of fungi, none of which are obviously close relatives of oomycetes. Since this research is unfunded, we have not been able to pursue as much molecular testing as would be ideal. The UCD infectious disease physician did agree that the images were compelling, but not his primary field of study. He/we filed a report with the CDC about the possiblity of this being an emerging/novel human pathogen, but the CDC has not replied to his follow-up requests for assistance in characterizing the findings.
I realize our involvement in this research is both non-traditional and that those of us doing it have motivations beyond that which drives most research. However, we have had enough independent scientists/physicians corroborate our perception that we are seeing something "not normal" in the tissues/fluids of those affected compared to the healthy controls, and encourage us to continue to try to find answers, that I feel compelled to post our findings thus far and ask for opinions and advice. We are hoping that someone, much more expert in mycology/protistology than us might be willing to review these images and offer their perspective. Also, if there is anyone actively pursuing ( or wanting to pursue) this line of research, we are happy to share all of our data gathered thus far, in hopes that it may lead to faster and more thorough characterization of what we have found, and hopefully application to determine which chronic diseases may have this putative infection as a component of their etiology.
Before the outbreak of ebola In West Africa, dead bodies are usually given a befitting burial using the traditional system (rectangular hole about 6-8 feet deep, 2-4 feet wide). During the peak of the outbreak in Liberia, dead bodies were burn as a process of disposal. In Sierra Leone all dead bodies have been buried by dressing them as demanded by law and tradition. I am concern about the negative impact of these two methods of disposing dead bodies of victims of the dreadful disease ebola. What are some of the short term and long impacts of these practices on:
1. Agriculture (food supply and safety).
2. Health status of people residing close to cemeteries or burning sites.
Two questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.
First. Do you think that the statistics being released by your country’s health authorities are [unreliable], [somewhat reliable] or [quite reliable]?
Second. Has your country (or municipality, etc.) adopted any kind of social distancing as a procedure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’m a Brazilian biologist and writer. I write about science and would like to know the opinion of colleagues from other countries (from any field of scientific knowledge).
My own analysis of the statistics for March leads me to say that the pandemic is losing strength (on a global scale). For details, see ‘Initial Evidence That the COVID-19 Pandemic May Be Weakening’ (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340438940_Initial_Evidence_That_the_COVID-19_Pandemic_May_Be_Weakening).
[The previous discussion – ‘The driver of biological evolution: genetics or ecology?’ – is here https://www.researchgate.net/post/The_driver_of_biological_evolution_genetics_or_ecology.]
Hello, there is more background in our overview page, but briefly- we are a group of veterinarians who came across unusual microscopic findings in a group of dogs and their owners (who happened to also be veterinarians) with an otherwise unexplained syndrome involving hematuria, chronic fibrosis of deep connective tissues, chronic cough, fatigue, and neuropathy. Both the dogs and their owners had a thorough medical work-up in which the cause of illness cold not be determined. Several other close human contacts of the original humans/dogs affected also developed similar symptoms over the following year. Some of the humans have had plateau of their symptoms while others have continued to worsen. The structures shown in attached images were found in the urine, blood, needle aspirates of subcutaneous nodules, and sometimes sputum of the affected individuals (canine and human) and not in healthy family members (matched controls)- this finding was confirmed by blinded readings of the affected vs. control cytology samples. CDC has been informed of these findings and may begin an investigation, though they are hobbled by the current COVID crisis and also relayed that they do not have a pathologist on staff trained to read this type of cytology!? So, we are asking your help in determining if the objects shown do seem to match the criteria for some type of protist (or other organism?), or if they are some type of unusual artifact. We have attempted sequencing without success, but this may be hampered by a thick glue-like mucus that seems to be produced by the organisms binding everything in the near vicinity tightly together. As veterinarians, our knowledge of invertebrate zoology is limited- but collectively, we thought that the objects seemed to resemble cysts of amoebae or perhaps ciliates, or even myxozoans. They are protected by a very stain-resistant outer "shell" (test?) that seems made of aggregates of regional debris. However, some layers stain well with Alcian Blue/Aniline Blue and negative staining with Nigrosan helped to clarify the appearance of some of the objects. The white surface is very birefringent, so we were only able to get clear micrographs when stacking software was used to improve focal range. Some features seemed similar to entamoeba histolytic, but the outer cyst wall is too thick in many examples. Some resembled Blastocystis- with a large central vacuole, but again, there were inconsistencies with that identification as well. If anyone can point out specific details/features that suggest real organism vs artifact, and/or label any of the details for us to give us some landmarks to follow (we though we were seeing distinct nuclei, but were not certain...) that would be extremely helpful.
Hi everyone! My lab is in the process of establishing a new project involving the use of field-caught mosquitoes. Does anyone have any highly-recommended traps for catching mosquitoes in the field?
Our lab is located in a relatively swampy and humid area in South Carolina, so we have a large variety of mosquito species available.
Since we mainly use molecular techniques, we really need both the DNA and RNA of the captured mosquito specimens to remain intact.
Thus far, the most promising traps appear to be either the EVS 2801A CO2 trap (BioQuip Products Inc.) or a simple 2L cylindrical, insulated container with a CO2-baited miniature light, as was used by Paul DR Johnson et al. (2007).
Any information or recommendations would be immensely appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
Johnson, P., et al. (2007). Mycobacterium Ulcerans In Mosquitoes Captured During Outbreak of Buruli Ulcer, Southeastern Australia. Emerging Infectious Diseases 13(11): 1653-1660.
Have recently published two papers which describe a new type of infectious-like outbreak. First describes spread of increased GP referral and second describes spread of excess deaths. Use the website address on second paper to get to the first one (GP referral). Any comments or suggestions welcome.
Currently writing a research paper on if dengue, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is more common due to urbanization of human populations. I believe an effective and accurate spatial analysis technique will help my research because it will allow me to track and record the areas that are affected by dengue.
I want any suggestions for online websites which contain updated information concerning emerging infectious diseases.
Thanks in advance
For our current study of Amphibiocystidium in Palmate Newts in the Netherlands we need to weigh the animals. Spring scales are a tad bit inaccurate and we do not have the budget for more accurate digital scales. As an intermediate solution we are using so called weighing spoons (see photo). For a study in Midwife Toads (where I assisted in) I have used these before. They are a bit sensitive for wind and need to be on a level surface but other than that they seem quite usefull.
I am interested in your experiences with these scales in term of battery life in the field, accuracy and so forth. In the picture I have used one of my Triturus carnifex to do some testing.
Based on recent literature I am under the impression that the genome-wide comparison of prehistoric and modern pathogen DNA is significant for the following reasons:
- Prehistoric human microbiomes can be screened for novel vaccine targets
- Reconstructed draft genomes may be used to identify close relatives of modern pathogens
- Reference genomes can provide clues that may aid in the timeous and appropriate management of contemporary disease threats
Is this correct? In which other ways can one express the contemporary significance of prehistoric pathogen research?
Whether it be in bathing or drinking settings, are there any pathogenic organisms which we have little knowledge as to the lethal disinfection doses (using various techniques)?
Unexplained periods of higher death and medical admissions have been characterised in the UK. Both deaths and medical admissions appear to show spatial spread indicating a potential infectious aetiology.
A quick overview of this research is available at:
The actual analysis is relatively simple and is not time consuming and the spatiotemporal spread of the agent is best demonstrated using very small area data.
If you are interested in conducting research outside of the UK I have a draft paper which demonstrates the current approach and the type of results which can be observed. If you contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org)I will send a copy of this draft paper and hopefully these outbreaks can be demonstrated far more widely than the UK.
Since the MERS Coronavirus infection is endemic on the Arabic peninsula and now transfered by single patient to South Korea: Do you defer travelers coming back from these regions for a specific period (e.g. 4 weeks after return) from donating blood in your country?
Given the relatively rapid progression in areas of Brazil (8 states until yesterday) in approximately one month, how faster or when would be expect to have cases of Zika in other countries of the region? Would be similar to chikungunya?, when ending 2013 cases were reported in some Caribbean islands and some months later we received in other countries in the region. I felt we, as region, were not prepared for CHIK. Not even yet, physicians and research groups are doing properly in the most efficient way, even those working in dengue, and now we will face Zika.
Many countries across Europe experienced an unexpected increase in mortality in 2012. Has anyone done any further research into this issue? Was this issue wider than Europe?
I have documented small area spread of a new type of infectious agent across Berkshire in the UK. The agent seems to be relatively difficult to transmit but has quite dramatic impact on medical admissions.
A short article is attached, however, background studies can be accessed via www.hcaf.biz in the 'Emergency Admissions' web page.
Much appreciated. Rod
I am working on plasmacytoid dendritic cells and many references suggest that flu PR8 is best for stimulation of pDC...can anyone tell me if I plan to use this virus what kind of biosafety should be followed?
In the last 10 years we have seen an increase in published cases of proliferative sparganosis and/or proliferative Mesocestoides tetrathyridiosis reported from several host species in many parts of the world. These are tapeworm metacestodes that normally are not asexually proliferative, but seem to become so under some circumstances. It is possible that this is an emerging infectious disease group, but perhaps more likely increasing awareness, better surveillance and more robust field surveys are resulting in more reporting. We continue to work on this in my lab, and I would like to hear perspectives on this, as well as information from those who have observed unpublished cases.
Conference Paper Histology and ultrastructure of acephalic proliferative meta...
Conference Paper GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS OF HUMAN SPARGANOSIS
I am looking to read comprehensive texts in Physical Oceanography and in the Evolution and Ecology of Infectious Diseases and am looking for direction into which texts may be the best to acquire.
Sadly, a number of journals seem to have done away with the option of publishing short commentaries or insights, unless they are a direct response to a paper published recently in a journal. Our lab has been generating some interesting ideas about the current ebola epidemic and ways forward in understanding the natural history of ebola viruses and are looking for a venue with which to share them with the scientific community.
So far we have found the following potential options but any additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated:
Emerging infectious diseases - Commentaries, but need to be invited,
EcoHealth - Forum
Trends in Ecology & Evolution - Letter
I want to be able to tell when a gene reassortment event (observed after DNA sequencing of genes of pathogens) occured.
Two patients infected with Ebola virus have now entered the U.S. for treatment, but they are in a highly controlled environment. However, while the press and the public have been very aware of this, we still have black market transfer of "bush meat", fresh animal flesh from Africa to other parts of the world, outside any regulation for potential disease transmission. Could it be that while the media and public focus on a contained and controlled situation that is unlikely to result in an Ebola outbreak outside Africa, we are largely ignoring a more significant Ebola threat via other means of introduction?
In regard to vector borne diseases and their transmission cycle, from your previous experience in general where is the weakest point in this cycle? Is it the vector or the pathogens or maybe the presence of the host?
We see much discussion of global spread and potential pandemics from zoonotic infectious threats (e.g. Ebola, MERS, cryptosporidiosis) and vector-borne threats (e.g., Chikungunya, dengue). Some of these are both zoonotic and vector-borne (e.g., West Nile virus, Chagas', leishmaniasis, Rift-Valley fever). However, there seems to be less emphasis on the potential for geographical spread, or even global spread, of sapronotic infectious agents (e.g., melioidosis, legionellosis, flesh-eating bacteria) that are not vector-borne or specifically associated with other animals, but which tend to build up in certain environments and could be introduced into similar distant environments by internationally transported contaminants. A good discussion of potential sapronotic threats might raise awareness of potential threats and encourage more vigilance in surveillance and preparedness.
We have made major progress toward elimination of polio as a major threat in most of the world. Yet coxsackieviruses and other enteroviruses, some causing symptoms similar to those of polio, may become emerging threats. I welcome broad participation of a discussion on this topic, especially as news media are currently reporting on polio-like illnesses among children in California, USA, and elsewhere.
Aedes albopictus continues to expand geographically as an invasive species in various parts of the world, where it may alter the epidemiological profile of viral diseases such as dengue and Chikungunya. As Zika virus continues to emerge in new locations, diversity of competent vectors besides Aedes aegypti will be a matter of concern. I am seeking input about unpublished data as well as speculation by entomologists and other scientists with relevant experience.
Emerging Infectious disease involve interactions among species, pathogen and the host species. But understanding the dynamics of any particular disease system, involves understanding a complex system of interactions among the organisms.
Infectious Disease Ecology. 2008. Richard Ostfeld, FelisiaKeesing y Valerie Eviner. Pricenton University Press. 506 pág.
Dengue virus, similar to Chikungunya in many clinical and epidemiological aspects, is already well established in Mexico and has occurred recently in the United States. Dengue is also well established in other areas of both North and South America.
The attached article is about to be published in Biomedicine International in early 2014 and shows evidence of a unique type of infectious spread. Does anyone know of suitable people who could analyse the spread to draw conclusions regarding the possible identity or mode of transmission of the agent responsible?
Outbreaks of a new type of infectious disease can be discerned in western health care systems at around 5-6 years apart. Each outbreak is associated with an increase in emergency medical admissions, deaths and wider costs. Could these outbreaks be due to cytomegalovirus or are there other alternatives?
I tried to suspend the bacterial pallet with PBS-glycerol solution but Mycobacterium bovis seems to be waxy in nature and does not mix with the solution.
What is the best method to freeze them so I can use them in my ongoing experiment?
Hi, I'd like to know which institutes in and around London, or other regions in the UK are intimately involved in research on emerging infectious diseases, especially those with wildlife origins (thinking bats, rodents, primates etc.) I'm particularly interested in knowing if any of these institutes are taking PhD students, as I'm looking to do mine in the near future. My personal interest is those diseases which are primarily of zoonotic significance, and if possible, I'd like to study whether diseases such as Hendra, Nipah or other paramyxoviral diseases occur or have occurred in parts of India, where I'm from, and from where there is a dearth of info. Which is not to say that I'm unwilling to work elsewhere in the world! :) Thanks in advance.