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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine

This Week In PLOS NTDs and PLOS Pathogens: Bed Bugs and Infectious Disease, Cholera in Pregnancy, Diversity of M. tuberculosis Populations, and More

The following new articles are publishing in PLOS NTDs this week:

Ciglenecki I, Bichet M, Tena J, Mondesir E, Bastard M, et al. (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(8): e2368. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002368
Ciglenecki I, Bichet M, Tena J, Mondesir E, Bastard M, et al. (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(8): e2368. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002368

One potential method for controlling African sleeping sickness relies on releasing genetically modified tsetse that are resistant to carrying the trypanosomiasis parasite. For this strategy to be successful, resistant tsetse must be able to invade the susceptible tsetse population. In this paper, Dr. Jan Medlock and colleagues use a mathematical model to assess the feasibility of such a strategy, and the implications for sleeping sickness prevalence in humans and livestock.

During Haiti’s major cholera epidemic in October 2010, Dr. Iza Ciglenecki and colleagues set-up a specialized cholera treatment unit for pregnant women inside the MSF hospital in Léogâne and analyzed routinely collected data from patient files in order to describe the pregnancy outcomes and risk factors for fetal death. Their collected data may help multidisciplinary units prevent negative maternal, fetal and neonatal outcomes during future epidemics.

An important aspect of disease prevention is mosquito surveillance to determine geographical range and seasonal prevalence of the associated viruses. Using a portable microarray, Dr. Nathan Grubaugh and colleagues developed an assay with the ability to detect many known viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. Designed for use in conjunction with broad-range screening tools, it is a cost effective, rapid method to determine the identity of viruses from infected mosquitoes.

The following new articles are publishing in PLOS Pathogens this week:

Like other blood-feeding arthropods such as mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas, bed bugs could, in principle, also transmit human pathogens. Despite over 100 years of investigation, this has not been seen so far. However, as Dr. Zach Adelman and colleagues argue in their Pearl, the conclusion that bed bugs are annoying but not dangerous because they don’t transmit infectious agents may be premature.

Anthrax poses a potential community health risk due to accidental or intentional aerosol release. Drs. Adi Gundlapalli, Damon Toth and colleagues have developed a quantitative dose-response model for inhalational anthrax that estimates the magnitude and timeline of potential public health consequences should a release occur and recommends a course of antibiotics to those potentially exposed.

Mycobacterium tuberculosum is estimated to have infected one third of the world’s population. To understand the reasons, Dr. Caitlin Pepperell and colleagues analyzed complete DNA sequences from a global sample. They report evidence of both neutral and selective influences on the pathogen’s genetic diversity, as well as of a 25-fold expansion of global populations coincident with explosive growth in human populations in the middle ages.

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