Other infectious diseases

Published on September 14, 2017 by

Canine rabies and human health

Recent years have seen increasing recognition of the importance of canine rabies to human health: the scientific community has increasingly embraced dog rabies as an interesting and important field of study, and the public-health community has ramped up control efforts, leading to striking control successes, particularly in the Americas. This article discusses a series of papers published from 2007 based on ground-breaking work on tracing canine rabies in Tanzania, as well as analyses of data from other parts of the world.

Published on September 14, 2017 by

The Hayflick Limit and Maladaptive T cell Aging

Human cells have a finite lifespan (Hayflick limit). The existence of this Hayflick limit with regards to immune cells known as T cells, implies that infections have a long-term immunological cost (IC) to the individual because they drive immune cells towards the end of their lifespan, eventually making most of those cells unavailable to respond to other infections. The development of an accurate IC measure will lead to a better predictor of the age of the adaptive immune system than chronological age.

Short item Published on September 14, 2017

Progress in HIV science illuminated at the IAS2017 conference

The biennial International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science was held in Paris, France in July 2017. This article presents some of the highlights of the conference, including the roll of PrEP and the promise of long-acting injectable ARVs, as well as contributions of SACEMA staff in the areas of HIV and Hepatitis C, and HIV and cervical cancer. Basic, clinical, epidemiological and operational research on HIV and the HIV response must continue to be prioritised even while we strengthen our health systems and improve the implementation of existing interventions.

Published on June 15, 2017 by

A flawed immune system and the origins of antigenic sin

An important goal of research in immunology is to understand the flaws in the human immune system, such that their impacts can be effectively mitigated. Previous work documented flaws in the mechanisms by which the immune system tempers its responses to pathogens in order to avoid harming the host. As explained here, these tempering mechanisms also govern the phenomenon of the original antigenic sin, whereby an encounter with a new pathogen strain preferentially recalls less potent immune responses directed against an older, moderately different strain.

Published on March 15, 2017 by

Models and data collide in Madagascar

As a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, I have spent more than half of the past four years of my dissertation work in Madagascar, where I study the transmission dynamics of zoonotic viruses which jump the species barrier from bat reservoirs to human hosts. I combine field, laboratory, and modeling methods, with each technique offering unique insights into the larger truth.

Short item Published on December 9, 2016

Key traveller groups of relevance to spatial malaria transmission

We conducted surveys of travellers and their movement patterns in Mali, Burkina Faso, Zambia and Tanzania. We found that women travelling with children are a consistent group of relevance to malaria transmission. Our study also highlighted youth workers as a key traveller group of relevance to parasite dispersal in Mali.

Published on March 10, 2016 by

Understanding differences in the impact of deworming programmes

Soil transmitted helminths infections can have a negative impact on the health of children affecting nutritional status and development. Therefore, most endemic countries have started implementing mass chemotherapy programmes through school infrastructures. The success of a national deworming programme may be influenced by environmental conditions or the access to water, sanitation and hygiene. The question is which of these factors lead to success or failure of a programme. We therefore tried to get a better understanding of the determinants of geographical variations in programme impact in Kenya.

Published on March 10, 2016 by

Application of geo-spatial technology in schistosomiasis modelling in Africa

Schistosomiasis (bilharzia) is a parasitic disease which mainly affects under-resourced communities, especially in rural areas and is often not prioritized in national budgets in sub-Saharan African countries. The spatial and temporal distribution of schistosomiasis is mainly determined by the distribution of the intermediate host freshwater snail species. This is well-known, but the distribution is difficult to predict. The development of geospatial technology including GIS and remote sensing or earth observation has facilitated the progress made in predicting or modelling schistosomiasis in Africa.

Short item Published on March 10, 2016

Understanding leprosy trends

Leprosy is caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae and is characterized by peripheral nerve damage and skin lesions. Globally, new case detection rates for leprosy have remained fairly stable in the past decade, with India responsible for more than half of cases reported annually. We took a statistical look at recent annual new case detection trends reported by the government of India’s National Leprosy Eradication Programme. We found evidence of a very slow declining trend, but with substantial differences between districts. Enhancements in current public health policy must be undertaken to hasten the decline of leprosy.

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