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PLOS Papers Tackle Toxoplasma in Senegal, CCHFV in Sudan, More

Researchers from France, Senegal, and Cote d'Ivoire track Toxoplasma gondii strain genetics in relation to geography and human trade for a paper in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Using more than a dozen microsatellite markers, the team characterized 72 T. gondii isolates collected from free-range poultry and other domestic environmental sites in Senegalese port cities of Dakar and Saint-Louis and in an inland site called Kedougou, comparing the isolates with lineages that are or are not virulent in the house mouse. For example, the results suggest that lineages that are not virulent in mice may be pushing out the virulent lineage in parts of Senegal where the house mouse has moved in. "The results of our study conducted in Senegal suggest that the invasive house mouse — which was introduced in the port cities of this country through maritime trade since colonial times — has a dramatic influence on the T. gondii populations of invaded areas."

A team from the UK and Sudan present findings from an analysis of undifferentiated febrile illness in Sudan for another paper in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The researchers focused on an outbreak in Darfur in 2015 and 2016 that caused more than 100 deaths, retrospectively analyzing more than five dozen samples with a panel of molecular, serological, and epidemiological tests. With follow-up metagenomic RNA sequencing and real-time reverse transcription PCR, they found seven samples from the outbreak that contained Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus (CCHFV). "The presence of CCHFV has critical infection, prevention, and control as well as clinical implications for future response," they write, noting that the work "reinforces the need to boost surveillance, lab, and investigative capacity to underpin effective response, and for local and international health security."

In PLOS One, researchers from the Czech Republic report on invasive meningococcal disease in that country from 2015 to 2017. For the genomic surveillance study, the team did whole-genome sequencing on 89 Neisseria meningitidis isolates from the National Reference Laboratory for Meningococcal Infections, identifying representatives from several pathogen serogroups. While serogroup B was the most common in the Czech Republic, for example, the data pointed to a rise in the clonal complex cc269 and in a hypervirulent form of the disease involving the clonal complex cc11 known as MenC. "The genomic surveillance of [invasive meningococcal disease] in the Czech Republic provides data needed to update immunization guidelines for this disease," the authors note.