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Kenema, Sierra Leone

Lo Iacono G.,University of Cambridge | Cunningham A.A.,UK Institute of Zoology | Fichet-Calvet E.,Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine | Garry R.F.,Tulane University | And 10 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2015

Zoonotic infections, which transmit from animals to humans, form the majority of new human pathogens. Following zoonotic transmission, the pathogen may already have, or may acquire, the ability to transmit from human to human. With infections such as Lassa fever (LF), an often fatal, rodent-borne, hemorrhagic fever common in areas of West Africa, rodent-to-rodent, rodent-to-human, human-to-human and even human-to-rodent transmission patterns are possible. Indeed, large hospital-related outbreaks have been reported. Estimating the proportion of transmission due to human-to-human routes and related patterns (e.g. existence of super-spreaders), in these scenarios is challenging, but essential for planned interventions.Here, we make use of an innovative modeling approach to analyze data from published outbreaks and the number of LF hospitalized patients to Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone to estimate the likely contribution of human-to-human transmission. The analyses show that almost (Formula presented.) of the cases at KGH are secondary cases arising from human-to-human transmission. However, we found much of this transmission is associated with a disproportionally large impact of a few individuals (‘super-spreaders’), as we found only (Formula presented.) of human cases result in an effective reproduction number (i.e. the average number of secondary cases per infectious case) (Formula presented.) , with a maximum value up to (Formula presented.) .This work explains the discrepancy between the sizes of reported LF outbreaks and a clinical perception that human-to-human transmission is low. Future assessment of risks of LF and infection control guidelines should take into account the potentially large impact of super-spreaders in human-to-human transmission. Our work highlights several neglected topics in LF research, the occurrence and nature of super-spreading events and aspects of social behavior in transmission and detection. © 2015 Lo Iacono et al.


Boisen M.L.,Corgenix Medical Corporation | Boisen M.L.,Tulane University | Schieffelin J.S.,Tulane University | Goba A.,Lassa Fever Program | And 38 more authors.
Viral Immunology | Year: 2015

Lassa fever (LF) is a severe viral hemorrhagic fever caused by Lassa virus (LASV). The LF program at the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in Eastern Sierra Leone currently provides diagnostic services and clinical care for more than 500 suspected LF cases per year. Nearly two-thirds of suspected LF patients presenting to the LF Ward test negative for either LASV antigen or anti-LASV immunoglobulin M (IgM), and therefore are considered to have a non-Lassa febrile illness (NLFI). The NLFI patients in this study were generally severely ill, which accounts for their high case fatality rate of 36%. The current studies were aimed at determining possible causes of severe febrile illnesses in non-LF cases presenting to the KGH, including possible involvement of filoviruses. A seroprevalence survey employing commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay tests revealed significant IgM and IgG reactivity against dengue virus, chikungunya virus, West Nile virus (WNV), Leptospira, and typhus. A polymerase chain reaction-based survey using sera from subjects with acute LF, evidence of prior LASV exposure, or NLFI revealed widespread infection with Plasmodium falciparum malaria in febrile patients. WNV RNA was detected in a subset of patients, and a 419 nt amplicon specific to filoviral L segment RNA was detected at low levels in a single patient. However, 22% of the patients presenting at the KGH between 2011 and 2014 who were included in this survey registered anti-Ebola virus (EBOV) IgG or IgM, suggesting prior exposure to this agent. The 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak is already the deadliest and most widely dispersed outbreak of its kind on record. Serological evidence reported here for possible human exposure to filoviruses in Sierra Leone prior to the current EVD outbreak supports genetic analysis that EBOV may have been present in West Africa for some time prior to the 2014 outbreak. © Copyright 2015 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc..


Shaffer J.G.,The New School | Grant D.S.,Lassa Fever Program | Schieffelin J.S.,Tulane University | Boisen M.L.,Tulane University | And 59 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2014

Background:Lassa fever (LF), an often-fatal hemorrhagic disease caused by Lassa virus (LASV), is a major public health threat in West Africa. When the violent civil conflict in Sierra Leone (1991 to 2002) ended, an international consortium assisted in restoration of the LF program at Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in an area with the world's highest incidence of the disease.Methodology/Principal Findings:Clinical and laboratory records of patients presenting to the KGH Lassa Ward in the post-conflict period were organized electronically. Recombinant antigen-based LF immunoassays were used to assess LASV antigenemia and LASV-specific antibodies in patients who met criteria for suspected LF. KGH has been reestablished as a center for LF treatment and research, with over 500 suspected cases now presenting yearly. Higher case fatality rates (CFRs) in LF patients were observed compared to studies conducted prior to the civil conflict. Different criteria for defining LF stages and differences in sensitivity of assays likely account for these differences. The highest incidence of LF in Sierra Leone was observed during the dry season. LF cases were observed in ten of Sierra Leone's thirteen districts, with numerous cases from outside the traditional endemic zone. Deaths in patients presenting with LASV antigenemia were skewed towards individuals less than 29 years of age. Women self-reporting as pregnant were significantly overrepresented among LASV antigenemic patients. The CFR of ribavirin-treated patients presenting early in acute infection was lower than in untreated subjects.Conclusions/Significance:Lassa fever remains a major public health threat in Sierra Leone. Outreach activities should expand because LF may be more widespread in Sierra Leone than previously recognized. Enhanced case finding to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment is imperative to reduce mortality. Even with ribavirin treatment, there was a high rate of fatalities underscoring the need to develop more effective and/or supplemental treatments for LF. © 2014 Shaffer et al.


Boisen M.L.,Corgenix | Boisen M.L.,Tulane University | Oottamasathien D.,Corgenix | Jones A.B.,Corgenix | And 32 more authors.
Journal of Infectious Diseases | Year: 2015

Background. Throughout the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, major gaps were exposed in the availability of validated rapid diagnostic platforms, protective vaccines, and effective therapeutic agents. These gaps potentiated the development of prototype rapid lateral flow immunodiagnostic (LFI) assays that are true point-of-contact platforms, for the detection of active Ebola infections in small blood samples. Methods. Recombinant Ebola and Marburg virus matrix VP40 and glycoprotein (GP) antigens were used to derive a panel of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. Antibodies were tested using a multivariate approach to identify antibody-antigen combinations suitable for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and LFI assay development. Results. Polyclonal antibodies generated in goats were superior reagents for capture and detection of recombinant VP40 in test sample matrices. These antibodies were optimized for use in antigen-capture ELISA and LFI assay platforms. Prototype immunoglobulin M (IgM)/immunoglobulin G (IgG) ELISAs were similarly developed that specifically detect Ebola virus-specific antibodies in the serum of experimentally infected nonhuman primates and in blood samples obtained from patients with Ebola from Sierra Leone. Conclusions. The prototype recombinant Ebola LFI assays developed in these studies have sensitivities that are useful for clinical diagnosis of acute ebolavirus infections. The antigen-capture and IgM/IgG ELISAs provide additional confirmatory assay platforms for detecting VP40 and other ebolavirus-specific immunoglobulins. © 2015 The Author 2015.

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