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Extreme mortality during a historical measles outbreak on Rotuma is consistent with measles immunosuppression

Susie Cant, G. Dennis Shanks, Matt J. Keeling and Bridget S. Penman

In 1911, Rotuma in Fiji was hit by a measles pidemic, which killed 13% of the island population. Detailed records show two mortality peaks, with individuals reported as dying solely from measles in the first and from measles and diarrhoea in the second. MeHere, we investigate whether the pattern of mortality on Rotuma in 1911 was a consequence of the immunosuppressive effects of measles. We use a compartmental model to simulate measles infection and immunosuppression. Whilst immunosuppressed, we assume that individuals are vulnerable to dysfunctional reactions triggered by either (i) a newly introduced infectious agent arriving at the same time as measles or (ii) microbes already present in the population in a pre-existing equilibrium state. We show that both forms of the immunosuppression model provide a plausible fit to the data and that the inclusion of immunosuppression in the model leads to more realistic estimates of measles epidemiological parameters than when immunosuppression is not included.

Epidemiology & Infection. May 2024

Fri 14 Jun 2024, 07:34 | Tags: Microbiology & Infectious Disease

The 2024 Europe report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: unprecedented warming demands unprecedented action

Kim R van Daalen et al incl. Orin Courtenay

The Lancet Countdown in Europe was established in 2021, to assess the health profile of climate change aiming to stimulate European social and political will to implement rapid health-responsive climate mitigation and adaptation actions. In 2022, the collaboration published its indicator report, tracking progress on health and climate change via 33 indicators and across five domains. This new report tracks 42 indicators highlighting the negative impacts of climate change on human health, the delayed climate action of European countries, and the missed opportunities to protect or improve health with health-responsive climate action. Considering that negative climate-related health impacts and the responsibility for climate change are not equal at the regional and global levels, this report also endeavours to reflect on aspects of inequality and justice by highlighting at-risk groups within Europe and Europe's responsibility for the climate crisis.

Lancet Public Heath. May 2024

Mon 10 Jun 2024, 08:17 | Tags: Microbiology & Infectious Disease

Epidemiological and health economic implications of symptom propagation in respiratory pathogens : a mathematical modelling investigation

Asplin, Phoebe, Keeling, Matt J., Mancy, Rebecca and Hill, Edward M.

We propose a novel framework for incorporating different levels of symptom propagation into models of infectious disease transmission via a single parameter, α. Varying α tunes the model from having no symptom propagation (α = 0, as typically assumed) to one where symptoms always propagate (α = 1). For parameters corresponding to three respiratory pathogens—seasonal influenza, pandemic influenza and SARS-CoV-2—we explored how symptom propagation impacted the relative epidemiological and health-economic performance of three interventions, conceptualised as vaccines with different actions: symptom-attenuating (labelled SA), infection-blocking (IB) and infection-blocking admitting only mild breakthrough infections (IB_MB). Overall, the preferred intervention type depended on the combination of the strength of symptom propagation and uptake. Given the importance of determining robust public health responses, we highlight the need to gather further data on symptom propagation, with our modelling framework acting as a template for future analysis.

PLoS Computational Biology. May 2024

Fri 07 Jun 2024, 08:20 | Tags: Microbiology & Infectious Disease

Unveiling novel Neocosmospora species from Thai mangroves as potent biocontrol agents against Colletotrichum species

Klomchit, A, Calabon, MS, Worabandit, S, Weaver, JA, Karima, EM, Alberti, F, Greco, C and Mahanil, S

This study aims to investigate the taxonomy, biosynthetic potential, and application of three newly isolated Neocosmospora species from mangrove habitats in the southern part of Thailand using phylogeny, bioactivity screening, genome sequencing, and bioinformatics analysis.

Two fungal isolates of Neocosmospora and a new species of N. mangrovei were reported in this study. These fungal strains showed activity against pathogenic fungi causing anthracnose in chili. In addition, full genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis of N. mangrovei MFLUCC 17–0253 were obtained.

Journal of Applied Microbiology. May 2024


A distinct, high affinity, alkaline phosphatase facilitates occupation of P-depleted environments by marine picocyanobacteria

Alberto Torcello-Requena, Andrew Murphy, Ian D. E. A. Lidbury, Frances D. Pitt, Richard Stark, Andrew D. Millard, Richard J. Puxty, Yin Chen, David J. Scanlan

Marine picocyanobacteria of the genera Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, the two most abundant phototrophs on Earth, thrive in oligotrophic oceanic regions. While it is well known that specific lineages are exquisitely adapted to prevailing in situ light and temperature regimes, much less is known of the molecular machinery required to facilitate occupancy of these low-nutrient environments. Here, we describe a hitherto unknown alkaline phosphatase, Psip1, that has a substantially higher affinity for phosphomonoesters than other well-known phosphatases like PhoA, PhoX, or PhoD and is restricted to clade III Synechococcus and a subset of high light I-adapted Prochlorococcus strains, suggesting niche specificity.

PNAS. May 2024


RecGraph: recombination-aware alignment of sequences to variation graphs

Jorge Avila Cartes, Paola Bonizzoni, Simone Ciccolella, Gianluca Della Vedova, Luca Denti, Xavier Didelot, Davide Monti, Yuri Pirola

In this paper, we present the extension of the notion of sequence-to-graph alignment to a variation graph that incorporates a recombination, so that the latter are explicitly represented and evaluated in an alignment. Moreover, we present a dynamic programming approach for the special case where there is at most a recombination—we implement this case as RecGraph. From a modelling point of view, a recombination corresponds to identifying a new path of the variation graph, where the new arc is composed of two halves, each extracted from an original path, possibly joined by a new arc. Our experiments show that RecGraph accurately aligns simulated recombinant bacterial sequences that have at most a recombination, providing evidence for the presence of recombination events. 

Bioinformatics. April 2024

Thu 23 May 2024, 08:31 | Tags: Microbiology & Infectious Disease

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