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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine

This Week in PLOS NTDs and PLOS Pathogens: What Moves JEV, How Flaviviruses are “Sensed,” How Pathogens Exploit Cell Death, and More

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

Ereqat S, Nasereddin A, Levine H, Azmi K, Al-Jawabreh A, et al. (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(9): e2417. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002417
Ereqat S, Nasereddin A, Levine H, Azmi K, Al-Jawabreh A, et al. (2013). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(9): e2417. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002417

As social and cultural factors are increasingly recognized as relevant to the likelihood of infection with Chagas disease, new qualitative methods are being used to study such factors. This systematic review from Laia Ventura-Garcia and colleagues reports on transdisciplinary approaches that incorporate preventive and treatment activities, and consider populations’ living conditions and their culturally informed understandings of health, that may serve as tools to reduce Chagas incidence in the long-term.

Despite large effective immunization campaigns, Japanese encephalitis (JEV) remains a disease of global health concern. At global scale, climate, land cover and land use, otherwise strongly dependent on human activities, affect the abundance of JEV vectors, and of wild and domestic hosts. In this article Guillaume Le Flohic and colleagues explore in detail the drivers of JEV around and out of Asia.

The two classical forms of human trypanosomiasis are sleeping sickness due to T. brucei gambiense and T. brucei rhodesiense, but a number of atypical human infections caused by other Trypanosoma species and sub-species have been reported. Philippe Truc and colleagues explore these variants and recommend improvements in Trypanosoma diagnostic and detection procedures.

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

Mosquito-borne flaviviruses such as West Nile and dengue cause substantial disease burden in many countries. In their pearl, Mehul Suthar and colleagues discuss current understanding of how flaviviruses are ‘‘sensed’’ by the host pattern recognition receptors. They also point to outstanding questions on host detection and viral countermeasures, answers to which might advance the development of vaccines or prophylactic treatments.

Like many defense mechanisms, programmed cell death in plants can also be exploited by some pathogens. Martin Dickman and Paul de Figueiredo highlight several major ways in which plant cells die in the context of the high-stakes arms race between fungal pathogens and their plant hosts.

Brian Rudd, Janko Nikolich-Zugich, Miles Davenport, and colleagues characterize the antigen-specific T cell repertoires elicited by acute neonatal infection in mice and during a later secondary challenge. Their results suggest that the developmental stage of the host at the time of primary infection or vaccination can alter the composition of the long-lived memory CD8+ T cell pool, as well as their ability to respond to subsequent infections.

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