register interest

Professor Paul Newton

Research Area: Clinical Epidemiology
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: Laos, global health, Asia, medicine quality, scrub typhus
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Laboratories at dusk, Laos

Laboratories at dusk, Laos

We are a small clinical tropical medicine research group, the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU), based at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane in Laos. Vientiane is a small capital city, on the banks of the Mekong River, of a country of 6 million people but of the size of the UK. We are embedded in the Microbiology Laboratory of the Hospital and linked to the Mahidol University Oxford University Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok and the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) in Mae Sot, Thailand. Core funding for the research is from the Wellcome Trust (UK).

We conduct clinical research to help improve global, regional and Lao public health and to build capacity for this in Laos. Our research aims to provide global, regional organisations and the Lao Government with key data that will help make evidence-based decisions for individual patients and for health policy. The conditions we concentrate on include malaria, scrub typhus, murine typhus, melioidosis, typhoid, dengue, leptospirosis and the causes of central nervous system infections. We also investigate diseases of nutrition and poverty such as infantile beriberi and noma and build diagnostic, clinical and research capacity. Early work demonstrated the importance of local knowledge in deciding policy and the heterogeneity of infectious disease epidemiology in rural Asia. We also perform clinical trials on malaria, typhoid, murine typhus and scrub typhus treatment and evaluate locally appropriate diagnostic tests for key diseases.

With WWARN we conduct a diversity of research projects on medicine quality epidemiology, diagnostics, law and advocacy for this benighted field to be taken more seriously, especially the severe public health problem of falsified antimalarials in Asia and Africa.

That research in Laos has significant impact beyond its borders will become increasingly important as the country becomes more connected, dramatically with forthcoming transnational high-speed railways and multiple new highways. With Laos, and adjacent areas of Zomia, having great ethnic diversity, large forest tracts and wildlife trade understanding the clinical epidemiology of infectious diseases, especially zoonoses, is of great importance.

We build human medical research capacity in Laos and produce a Lao and English language medical journal – the Mahosot Microbiology Review and assist with the production of the Lao Medical Journal.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Daniel H Paris Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Adrianus Dondorp Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Lorenz Von Seidlein Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Mayfong Mayxay Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor François H Nosten Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Rose McGready Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Philippe J Guerin Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Paul Turner Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Claudia Turner Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Gareth Turner Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Yoel Lubell Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Direk Limmathurotsakul Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Guy Thwaites Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Stuart Blacksell Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Nicholas J White FRS Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Nicholas PJ Day FMedSci FRCP Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Joel Tarning Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Lisa J White Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr David AB Dance Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Sabine Dittrich Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Bridget Wills Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Tabernero P, Parker M, Ravinetto R, Phanouvong S, Yeung S, Kitutu FE, Cheah PY, Mayxay M, Guerin PJ, Newton PN. 2016. Ethical challenges in designing and conducting medicine quality surveys. Trop Med Int Health, 21 (6), pp. 799-806. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: In this paper we discuss the main ethical challenges related to the conduct of medicine quality surveys and make suggestions on how to address them. METHOD: Most evidence-based information regarding medicine quality derives from surveys. However, existing research ethical guidelines do not provide specific guidance for medicine quality surveys. Hence, those conducting surveys are often left wondering how to judge what counts as best practice. A list of the main ethical challenges in the design and conduct of surveys is presented. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: It is vital that the design and conduct of medicine quality surveys uphold moral and ethical obligations and analyse the ethical implications and consequences of such work. These aspects include the impact on the local availability of and access to medicines; the confidentiality and privacy of the surveyors and the surveyed; questions as to whether outlet staff personnel should be told they are part of a survey; the need of ethical and regulatory approvals; and how the findings should be disseminated. Medicine quality surveys should ideally be conducted in partnership with the relevant national Medicine Regulatory Authorities. An international, but contextually sensitive, model of good ethical practice for such surveys is needed.

Abdulla S, Achan J, Yeka A, D'Alessandro U, Adam I, Alemayehu BH, Allan R, Temu EA et al. 2016. Gametocyte carriage in uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria following treatment with artemisinin combination therapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data BMC Medicine, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2016 WWARN Gametocyte Study Group.Background: Gametocytes are responsible for transmission of malaria from human to mosquito. Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) reduces post-treatment gametocyte carriage, dependent upon host, parasite and pharmacodynamic factors. The gametocytocidal properties of antimalarial drugs are important for malaria elimination efforts. An individual patient clinical data meta-analysis was undertaken to identify the determinants of gametocyte carriage and the comparative effects of four ACTs: artemether-lumefantrine (AL), artesunate/amodiaquine (AS-AQ), artesunate/mefloquine (AS-MQ), and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP). Methods: Factors associated with gametocytaemia prior to, and following, ACT treatment were identified in multivariable logistic or Cox regression analysis with random effects. All relevant studies were identified through a systematic review of PubMed. Risk of bias was evaluated based on study design, methodology, and missing data. Results: The systematic review identified 169 published and 9 unpublished studies, 126 of which were shared with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) and 121 trials including 48,840 patients were included in the analysis. Prevalence of gametocytaemia by microscopy at enrolment was 12.1 % (5887/48,589), and increased with decreasing age, decreasing asexual parasite density and decreasing haemoglobin concentration, and was higher in patients without fever at presentation. After ACT treatment, gametocytaemia appeared in 1.9 % (95 % CI, 1.7-2.1) of patients. The appearance of gametocytaemia was lowest after AS-MQ and AL and significantly higher after DP (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR), 2.03; 95 % CI, 1.24-3.12; P = 0.005 compared to AL) and AS-AQ fixed dose combination (FDC) (AHR, 4.01; 95 % CI, 2.40-6.72; P < 0.001 compared to AL). Among individuals who had gametocytaemia before treatment, gametocytaemia clearance was significantly faster with AS-MQ (AHR, 1.26; 95 % CI, 1.00-1.60; P = 0.054) and slower with DP (AHR, 0.74; 95 % CI, 0.63-0.88; P = 0.001) compared to AL. Both recrudescent (adjusted odds ratio (AOR), 9.05; 95 % CI, 3.74-21.90; P < 0.001) and new (AOR, 3.03; 95 % CI, 1.66-5.54; P < 0.001) infections with asexual-stage parasites were strongly associated with development of gametocytaemia after day 7. Conclusions: AS-MQ and AL are more effective than DP and AS-AQ FDC in preventing gametocytaemia shortly after treatment, suggesting that the non-artemisinin partner drug or the timing of artemisinin dosing are important determinants of post-treatment gametocyte dynamics.

Newton PN, Caillet C, Guerin PJ. 2016. A link between poor quality antimalarials and malaria drug resistance? Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther, 14 (6), pp. 531-533. | Read more

Vongsouvath M, Phommasone K, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Kosoltanapiwat N, Chantratita N, Blacksell SD, Lee SJ, de Lamballerie X et al. 2016. Using Rapid Diagnostic Tests as a Source of Viral RNA for Dengue Serotyping by RT-PCR - A Novel Epidemiological Tool. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (5), pp. e0004704. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dengue virus infection causes major public health problems in tropical and subtropical areas. In many endemic areas, including the Lao PDR, inadequate access to laboratory facilities is a major obstacle to surveillance and study of dengue epidemiology. Filter paper is widely used for blood collection for subsequent laboratory testing for antibody and nucleic acid detection. For the first time, we demonstrate that dengue viral RNA can be extracted from dengue rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and then submitted to real-time RT-PCR for serotyping. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We evaluated the Standard Diagnostics (SD) Bioline Dengue Duo RDT, a commonly used test in dengue endemic areas. First, using the QIAamp RNA kit, dengue RNA was purified from the sample pad of the NS1 RDT loaded with virus isolates of the four serotypes, then quantified by RT-PCR. We observed greater recovery of virus, with a mean of 27 times more RNA recovered from RDT, than from filter paper. Second, we evaluated dengue NS1 RDTs from patients at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, (99 patients) and from rural Salavan Provincial Hospital (362 patients). There was good agreement between dengue RT-PCR from NS1 RDT with RT-PCR performed on RNA extracted from patient sera, either using RDT loaded with blood (82.8% and 91.4%, in Vientiane and Salavan, respectively) or serum (91.9% and 93.9%). There was 100% concordance between RDT and serum RT-PCR of infecting dengue serotype. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Therefore, the collection of NS1 positive RDTs, which do not require cold storage, may be a novel approach for dengue serotyping by RT-PCR and offers promising prospects for the collection of epidemiological data from previously inaccessible tropical areas to aid surveillance and public health interventions.

Caillet C, Sichanh C, Assemat G, Malet-Martino M, Sommet A, Bagheri H, Mayxay M, Syhakhang L, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Newton PN, Roussin A. 2016. Adverse drug reaction-related hospitalizations of adults in the Lao People's Democratic Republic: health risks of unknown medicines FUNDAMENTAL & CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, 30 pp. 10-10.

Chansamouth V, Thammasack S, Phetsouvanh R, Keoluangkot V, Moore CE, Blacksell SD, Castonguay-Vanier J, Dubot-Pérès A et al. 2016. The Aetiologies and Impact of Fever in Pregnant Inpatients in Vientiane, Laos. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (4), pp. e0004577. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Laos has the highest maternal mortality ratio in mainland Southeast Asia and a high incidence of infectious diseases. Globally, malaria has been the pathogen most intensively investigated in relation to impact on pregnancy, but there has been relatively little research on the aetiology and impact of other diseases. We therefore aimed to determine the causes and impact of fever in pregnant women admitted to two central hospitals in Vientiane City, Lao PDR (Laos). MATERIALS AND METHODS: This hospital-based prospective study was conducted in Mahosot Hospital and the Mother and Child Hospital, Vientiane, between 2006 and 2010, with the aim to recruit 250 consenting pregnant women admitted with tympanic temperature ≥37.5°C. Primary outcome was the cause of fever and secondary outcomes were pregnancy outcomes. Specific investigations (culture, antigen, molecular and serological tests) were performed to investigate causes of fever. After discharge, all pregnant women were asked to return for review and convalescence serum on day 10-14 and were monitored until delivery. PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: 250 pregnant women were recruited to this study between February 2006 and November 2010. Fifty percent were pregnant for the first time. Their median (range) gestational age on admission was 24 (4-43) weeks. The median (range) tympanic admission temperature was 38.5°C (37.5-40.5°C). Fifteen percent of patients stated that they had taken antibiotics before admission. Headache, myalgia, back pain and arthralgia were described by >60% of patients and 149 (60%) were given a laboratory diagnosis. Of those with confirmed diagnoses, 132 (53%) had a single disease and 17 (7%) had apparent mixed diseases. Among those who had a single disease, dengue fever was the most common diagnosis, followed by pyelonephritis, scrub typhus, murine typhus and typhoid. Patients were also diagnosed with tuberculosis, appendicitis, Staphylococcus aureus septicemia, leptospirosis, Japanese encephalitis virus infection and Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Severe consequences, including maternal death, miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and preterm birth, were found among 28 (78%) mothers with dengue fever, rickettsioses and typhoid. CONCLUSION: Fevers other than malaria, such as dengue, pyelonephritis, rickettsioses and typhoid are common causes of fever during pregnancy in the Asian tropics. Further investigations of their impact in the community on maternal death, fetal loss, vertical transmission, low birth weight and preterm birth are needed.

Rachlin A, Dittrich S, Phommasone K, Douangnouvong A, Phetsouvanh R, Newton PN, Dance DA. 2016. Investigation of Recurrent Melioidosis in Lao People's Democratic Republic by Multilocus Sequence Typing. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 94 (6), pp. 1208-1211. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is an infectious disease caused by the saprophytic bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei In northeast Thailand and northern Australia, where the disease is highly endemic, a range of molecular tools have been used to study its epidemiology and pathogenesis. In the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) where melioidosis has been recognized as endemic since 1999, no such studies have been undertaken. We used a multilocus sequence typing scheme specific for B. pseudomallei to investigate nine cases of culture-positive recurrence occurring in 514 patients with melioidosis between 2010 and 2015: four were suspected to be relapses while the other five represented reinfections. In addition, two novel sequence types of the bacterium were identified. The low overall recurrence rates (2.4%) and proportions of relapse and reinfection in the Laos are consistent with those described in the recent literature, reflecting the effective use of appropriate antimicrobial therapy.

Bharucha T, Chanthongthip A, Phuangpanom S, Phonemixay O, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Vongsouvath M, Lee S, Newton PN, Dubot-Pérès A. 2016. Pre-cut Filter Paper for Detecting Anti-Japanese Encephalitis Virus IgM from Dried Cerebrospinal Fluid Spots. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (3), pp. e0004516. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The use of filter paper as a simple, inexpensive tool for storage and transportation of blood, 'Dried Blood Spots' or Guthrie cards, for diagnostic assays is well-established. In contrast, there are a paucity of diagnostic evaluations of dried cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spots. These have potential applications in low-resource settings, such as Laos, where laboratory facilities for central nervous system (CNS) diagnostics are only available in Vientiane. In Laos, a major cause of CNS infection is Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). We aimed to develop a dried CSF spot protocol and to evaluate its diagnostic performance using the World Health Organisation recommended anti-JEV IgM antibody capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (JEV MAC-ELISA). METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Sample volumes, spotting techniques and filter paper type were evaluated using a CSF-substitute of anti-JEV IgM positive serum diluted in Phosphate Buffer Solution (PBS) to end-limits of detection by JEV MAC-ELISA. A conventional protocol, involving eluting one paper punch in 200 μl PBS, did not detect the end-dilution, nor did multiple punches utilising diverse spotting techniques. However, pre-cut filter paper enabled saturation with five times the volume of CSF-substitute, sufficiently improving sensitivity to detect the end-dilution. The diagnostic accuracy of this optimised protocol was compared with routine, neat CSF in a pilot, retrospective study of JEV MAC-ELISA on consecutive CSF samples, collected 2009-15, from three Lao hospitals. In comparison to neat CSF, 132 CSF samples stored as dried CSF spots for one month at 25-30 °C showed 81.6% (65.7-92.3 95%CI) positive agreement, 96.8% (91.0-99.3 95%CI) negative agreement, with a kappa coefficient of 0.81 (0.70-0.92 95%CI). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The novel design of pre-cut filter paper saturated with CSF could provide a useful tool for JEV diagnostics in settings with limited laboratory access. It has the potential to improve national JEV surveillance and inform vaccination policies. The saturation of filter paper has potential use in the wider context of pathogen detection, including dried spots for detecting other analytes in CSF, and other body fluids.

Bharucha T, Chanthongthip A, Phuangpanom S, Phonemixay O, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Vongsouvath M, Lee S, Newton PN, Dubot-Peres A. 2016. Pre-cut Filter Paper for Detecting Anti-Japanese Encephalitis Virus IgM from Dried Cerebrospinal Fluid Spots PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES, 10 (3), | Read more

Dittrich S, Rudgard WE, Woods KL, Silisouk J, Phuklia W, Davong V, Vongsouvath M, Phommasone K et al. 2016. The Utility of Blood Culture Fluid for the Molecular Diagnosis of Leptospira: A Prospective Evaluation. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 94 (4), pp. 736-740. | Show Abstract | Read more

Leptospirosis is an important zoonosis worldwide, with infections occurring after exposure to contaminated water. Despite being a global problem, laboratory diagnosis remains difficult with culture results taking up to 3 months, serology being retrospective by nature, and polymerase chain reaction showing limited sensitivity. Leptospira have been shown to survive and multiply in blood culture media, and we hypothesized that extracting DNA from incubated blood culture fluid (BCF), followed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) could improve the accuracy and speed of leptospira diagnosis. We assessed this retrospectively, using preincubated BCF ofLeptospiraspp. positive (N= 109) and negative (N= 63) febrile patients in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The final method showed promising sensitivities of 66% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 55-76) and 59% (95% CI: 49-68) compared with direct or direct and indirect testing combined, as the respective reference standards (specificities > 95%). Despite these promising diagnostic parameters, a subsequent prospective evaluation in a Lao hospital population (N= 352) showed that the sensitivity was very low (∼30%) compared with qPCR on venous blood samples. The disappointingly low sensitivity does suggest that venous blood samples are preferable for the clinical microbiology laboratory, although BCF might be an alternative if leptospirosis is only suspected postadmission after antibiotics have been used.

Ribolzi O, Rochelle-Newall E, Dittrich S, Auda Y, Newton PN, Rattanavong S, Knappik M, Soulileuth B, Sengtaheuanghoung O, Dance DA, Pierret A. 2016. Land use and soil type determine the presence of the pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei in tropical rivers. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int, 23 (8), pp. 7828-7839. | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei is the bacterium that causes melioidosis in humans. While B. pseudomallei is known to be endemic in South East Asia (SEA), the occurrence of the disease in other parts of the tropics points towards a potentially large global distribution. We investigated the environmental factors that influence the presence (and absence) of B. pseudomallei in a tropical watershed in SEA. Our main objective was to determine whether there is a link between the presence of the organism in the hydrographic network and the upstream soil and land-use type. The presence of B. pseudomallei was determined using a specific quantitative real-time PCR assay following enrichment culture. Land use, soil, geomorphology, and environmental data were then analyzed using partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLSDA) to compare the B. pseudomallei positive and negative sites. Soil type in the surrounding catchment and turbidity had a strong positive influence on the presence (acrisols and luvisols) or absence (ferralsols) of B. pseudomallei. Given the strong apparent links between soil characteristics, water turbidity, and the presence/absence of B. pseudomallei, actions to raise public awareness about factors increasing the risk of exposure should be undertaken in order to reduce the incidence of melioidosis in regions of endemicity.

Wattanakul T, Teerapong P, Plewes K, Newton PN, Chierakul W, Silamut K, Chotivanich K, Ruengweerayut R, White NJ, Dondorp AM, Tarning J. 2016. Pharmacokinetic properties of intramuscular versus oral syrup paracetamol in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 244. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Fever is an inherent symptom of malaria in both adults and children. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is the recommended antipyretic as it is inexpensive, widely available and has a good safety profile, but patients may not be able to take the oral drug reliably. A comparison between the pharmacokinetics of oral syrup and intramuscular paracetamol given to patients with acute falciparum malaria and high body temperature was performed. METHODS: A randomized, open-label, two-treatment, crossover, pharmacokinetic study of paracetamol dosed orally and intramuscularly was conducted. Twenty-one adult patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to receive a single 600 mg dose of paracetamol either as syrup or intramuscular injection on day 0 followed by a single dose administered by the alternative route on day 1. Paracetamol plasma concentrations were quantified frequently and modelled simultaneously using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. The final population pharmacokinetic model was used for dose optimization simulations. Relationships between paracetamol concentrations with temperature and parasite half-life were investigated using linear and non-linear regression analyses. RESULTS: The population pharmacokinetic properties of paracetamol were best described by a two-compartment disposition model, with zero-order and first-order absorption for intramuscular and oral syrup administration, respectively. The relative bioavailability of oral syrup was 84.4 % (95 % CI 68.2-95.1 %) compared to intramuscular administration. Dosing simulations showed that 1000 mg of intramuscular or oral syrup administered six-hourly reached therapeutic steady state concentrations for antipyresis, but more favourable concentration-time profiles were achieved with a loading dose of 1500 mg, followed by a 1000 mg maintenance dose. This ensured that maximum therapeutic concentrations were reached rapidly during the first 6 h. No significant relationships between paracetamol concentrations and temperature or parasite half-life were found. CONCLUSIONS: Paracetamol plasma concentrations after oral syrup and intramuscular administration in patients with acute falciparum malaria were described successfully by a two-compartment disposition model. Relative oral bioavailability compared to intramuscular dosing was estimated as 84.4 % (95 % CI 68.2-95.1 %). Dosing simulations showed that a loading dose followed by six-hourly dosing intervals reduced the time delay to reach therapeutic drug levels after both routes of administration. The safety and efficacy of loading dose paracetamol antipyretic regimens now needs to be established in larger studies.

Lubell Y, Althaus T, Blacksell SD, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Pan-Ngum W, White LJ, Day NP, Newton PN. 2016. Modelling the Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of Biomarker Tests as Compared with Pathogen-Specific Diagnostics in the Management of Undifferentiated Fever in Remote Tropical Settings. PLoS One, 11 (3), pp. e0152420. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria accounts for a small fraction of febrile cases in increasingly large areas of the malaria endemic world. Point-of-care tests to improve the management of non-malarial fevers appropriate for primary care are few, consisting of either diagnostic tests for specific pathogens or testing for biomarkers of host response that indicate whether antibiotics might be required. The impact and cost-effectiveness of these approaches are relatively unexplored and methods to do so are not well-developed. METHODS: We model the ability of dengue and scrub typhus rapid tests to inform antibiotic treatment, as compared with testing for elevated C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a biomarker of host-inflammation. Using data on causes of fever in rural Laos, we estimate the proportion of outpatients that would be correctly classified as requiring an antibiotic and the likely cost-effectiveness of the approaches. RESULTS: Use of either pathogen-specific test slightly increased the proportion of patients correctly classified as requiring antibiotics. CRP testing was consistently superior to the pathogen-specific tests, despite heterogeneity in causes of fever. All testing strategies are likely to result in higher average costs, but only the scrub typhus and CRP tests are likely to be cost-effective when considering direct health benefits, with median cost per disability adjusted life year averted of approximately $48 USD and $94 USD, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Testing for viral infections is unlikely to be cost-effective when considering only direct health benefits to patients. Testing for prevalent bacterial pathogens can be cost-effective, having the benefit of informing not only whether treatment is required, but also as to the most appropriate antibiotic; this advantage, however, varies widely in response to heterogeneity in causes of fever. Testing for biomarkers of host inflammation is likely to be consistently cost-effective despite high heterogeneity, and can also offer substantial reductions in over-use of antimicrobials in viral infections.

MalariaGEN Plasmodium falciparum Community Project. 2016. Genomic epidemiology of artemisinin resistant malaria. Elife, 5 (MARCH2016), | Show Abstract | Read more

The current epidemic of artemisinin resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia is the result of a soft selective sweep involving at least 20 independent kelch13 mutations. In a large global survey, we find that kelch13 mutations which cause resistance in Southeast Asia are present at low frequency in Africa. We show that African kelch13 mutations have originated locally, and that kelch13 shows a normal variation pattern relative to other genes in Africa, whereas in Southeast Asia there is a great excess of non-synonymous mutations, many of which cause radical amino-acid changes. Thus, kelch13 is not currently undergoing strong selection in Africa, despite a deep reservoir of variations that could potentially allow resistance to emerge rapidly. The practical implications are that public health surveillance for artemisinin resistance should not rely on kelch13 data alone, and interventions to prevent resistance must account for local evolutionary conditions, shown by genomic epidemiology to differ greatly between geographical regions.

Phommasone K, Althaus T, Souvanthong P, Phakhounthong K, Soyvienvong L, Malapheth P, Mayxay M, Pavlicek RL et al. 2016. Accuracy of commercially available c-reactive protein rapid tests in the context of undifferentiated fevers in rural Laos. BMC Infect Dis, 16 (1), pp. 61. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: C-Reactive Protein (CRP) has been shown to be an accurate biomarker for discriminating bacterial from viral infections in febrile patients in Southeast Asia. Here we investigate the accuracy of existing rapid qualitative and semi-quantitative tests as compared with a quantitative reference test to assess their potential for use in remote tropical settings. METHODS: Blood samples were obtained from consecutive patients recruited to a prospective fever study at three sites in rural Laos. At each site, one of three rapid qualitative or semi-quantitative tests was performed, as well as a corresponding quantitative NycoCard Reader II as a reference test. We estimate the sensitivity and specificity of the three tests against a threshold of 10 mg/L and kappa values for the agreement of the two semi-quantitative tests with the results of the reference test. RESULTS: All three tests showed high sensitivity, specificity and kappa values as compared with the NycoCard Reader II. With a threshold of 10 mg/L the sensitivity of the tests ranged from 87-98 % and the specificity from 91-98 %. The weighted kappa values for the semi-quantitative tests were 0.7 and 0.8. CONCLUSION: The use of CRP rapid tests could offer an inexpensive and effective approach to improve the targeting of antibiotics in remote settings where health facilities are basic and laboratories are absent. This study demonstrates that accurate CRP rapid tests are commercially available; evaluations of their clinical impact and cost-effectiveness at point of care is warranted.

Phommasone K, Adhikari B, Henriques G, Pongvongsa T, Phongmany P, von Seidlein L, White NJ, Day NP et al. 2016. Asymptomatic Plasmodium infections in 18 villages of southern Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR (Laos). Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 296. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A large fraction of Plasmodium infections do not cause clinical signs and symptoms of disease and persist at densities in blood that are not detectable by microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests. These infections may be critical as a transmission reservoir in areas of low malaria endemicity. Understanding the epidemiology of these infections would be helpful for malaria elimination. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Thapangthong and Nong Districts of Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR, to determine the prevalence of parasitaemia. A total of 888 blood samples were collected from afebrile volunteers aged ≥15 years in 18 villages during March and July 2015. Plasmodium infections were diagnosed by rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and high volume, ultra-sensitive quantitative polymerase chain reaction (uPCR). RESULTS: uPCR detected Plasmodium infections in 175 of 888 samples (20 %). The species distribution was Plasmodium falciparum 3.6 % (32/888), Plasmodium vivax 11.1 % (99/888), mixed infections with P. falciparum and P. vivax 1.6 % (14/888) and Plasmodium of undetermined species 3.4 % (30/888). RDT identified only 2 % (18/888) positive cases. Using uPCR as reference, the sensitivity and specificity of RDTs were 28 and 100 %, respectively, in detecting P. falciparum infections, and 3 and 99 % in detecting asymptomatic P. vivax infections. The K13 kelch propeller domain C580Y mutation, associated with reduced susceptibility to artemisinin derivatives, was found in 75 % (12/18) of P. falciparum isolates from Thapangthong and in 7 % (2/28) from Nong (p < 0.001). In a multivariate analysis, males were more likely to have P. vivax infections [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 4.76 (95 % CI 2.84-8.00)] while older villagers were at lower risk for parasitaemia [aOR for increasing age 0.98 (95 % CI 0.96-0.99)]. CONCLUSION: There is a high prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium infections in southern Savannakhet. Artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum strains form an increasing proportion of the parasite population in Thapangthong District and are already present in the more remote Nong District. This worrying trend has wider implications for Laos and could reverse the gains achieved by the successful control of malaria in Laos and the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Rapid elimination of P. falciparum has to be a top priority in Laos as well as in the wider GMS.

Rattanavong S, Dance DA, Davong V, Baker C, Frost H, Phetsouvanh R, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN, Steer AC, Smeesters PR. 2016. Group A streptococcal strains isolated in Lao People's Democratic Republic from 2004 to 2013. Epidemiol Infect, 144 (8), pp. 1770-1773. | Show Abstract | Read more

Epidemiological data regarding group A streptococcal (GAS) infections in South East Asia are scarce with no information from Laos. We characterized emm types, emm clusters and the antibiotic resistance profile of 124 GAS isolates recovered in Laos during 2004-2013. Most strains were recovered from skin and invasive infections (76% and 19%, respectively). Thirty-four emm types were identified as belonging to 12 emm clusters and no novel emm types were identified. No significant differences were observed in the distribution of emm types or emm clusters according to age or site of recovery (skin or invasive infections). There was moderate strain diversity in this country but considerable differences in emm-type distribution between Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. Vaccine coverage was high for the J8 vaccine candidate. The theoretical coverage for the 30-valent vaccine candidate needs further investigation. Antibiotic resistance was moderate to erythromycin and chloramphenicol (8% and 7%, respectively) and low to ofloxacin (<1%).

Dubot-Pérès A, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Chanthongthip A, Newton PN, de Lamballerie X. 2015. How many patients with anti-JEV IgM in cerebrospinal fluid really have Japanese encephalitis? Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (12), pp. 1376-1377. | Read more

Slesak G, Inthalath S, Dittrich S, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. Leeches as further potential vectors for rickettsial infections. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 112 (48), pp. E6593-E6594. | Read more

Cheeseman IH, Miller B, Tan JC, Tan A, Nair S, Nkhoma SC, De Donato M, Rodulfo H et al. 2016. Population Structure Shapes Copy Number Variation in Malaria Parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 33 (3), pp. 603-620. | Show Abstract | Read more

If copy number variants (CNVs) are predominantly deleterious, we would expect them to be more efficiently purged from populations with a large effective population size (Ne) than from populations with a small Ne. Malaria parasites (Plasmodium falciparum) provide an excellent organism to examine this prediction, because this protozoan shows a broad spectrum of population structures within a single species, with large, stable, outbred populations in Africa, small unstable inbred populations in South America and with intermediate population characteristics in South East Asia. We characterized 122 single-clone parasites, without prior laboratory culture, from malaria-infected patients in seven countries in Africa, South East Asia and South America using a high-density single-nucleotide polymorphism/CNV microarray. We scored 134 high-confidence CNVs across the parasite exome, including 33 deletions and 102 amplifications, which ranged in size from <500 bp to 59 kb, as well as 10,107 flanking, biallelic single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Overall, CNVs were rare, small, and skewed toward low frequency variants, consistent with the deleterious model. Relative to African and South East Asian populations, CNVs were significantly more common in South America, showed significantly less skew in allele frequencies, and were significantly larger. On this background of low frequency CNV, we also identified several high-frequency CNVs under putative positive selection using an FST outlier analysis. These included known adaptive CNVs containing rh2b and pfmdr1, and several other CNVs (e.g., DNA helicase and three conserved proteins) that require further investigation. Our data are consistent with a significant impact of genetic structure on CNV burden in an important human pathogen.

Lubell Y, Blacksell SD, Dunachie S, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Althaus T, Watthanaworawit W, Paris DH, Mayxay M et al. 2015. Performance of C-reactive protein and procalcitonin to distinguish viral from bacterial and malarial causes of fever in Southeast Asia. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 511. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Poor targeting of antimicrobial drugs contributes to the millions of deaths each year from malaria, pneumonia, and other tropical infectious diseases. While malaria rapid diagnostic tests have improved use of antimalarial drugs, there are no similar tests to guide the use of antibiotics in undifferentiated fevers. In this study we estimate the diagnostic accuracy of two well established biomarkers of bacterial infection, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein (CRP) in discriminating between common viral and bacterial infections in malaria endemic settings of Southeast Asia. METHODS: Serum procalcitonin and CRP levels were measured in stored serum samples from febrile patients enrolled in three prospective studies conducted in Cambodia, Laos and, Thailand. Of the 1372 patients with a microbiologically confirmed diagnosis, 1105 had a single viral, bacterial or malarial infection. Procalcitonin and CRP levels were compared amongst these aetiological groups and their sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing bacterial infections and bacteraemias from viral infections were estimated using standard thresholds. RESULTS: Serum concentrations of both biomarkers were significantly higher in bacterial infections and malaria than in viral infections. The AUROC for CRP in discriminating between bacterial and viral infections was 0.83 (0.81-0.86) compared with 0.74 (0.71-0.77) for procalcitonin (p < 0.0001). This relative advantage was evident in all sites and when stratifying patients by age and admission status. For CRP at a threshold of 10 mg/L, the sensitivity of detecting bacterial infections was 95% with a specificity of 49%. At a threshold of 20 mg/L sensitivity was 86% with a specificity of 67%. For procalcitonin at a low threshold of 0.1 ng/mL the sensitivity was 90% with a specificity of 39%. At a higher threshold of 0.5 ng/ul sensitivity was 60% with a specificity of 76%. CONCLUSION: In samples from febrile patients with mono-infections from rural settings in Southeast Asia, CRP was a highly sensitive and moderately specific biomarker for discriminating between viral and bacterial infections. Use of a CRP rapid test in peripheral health settings could potentially be a simple and affordable measure to better identify patients in need of antibacterial treatment and part of a global strategy to combat the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Abdulla S, Ashley EA, Bassat Q, Bethell D, Bjorkman A, Borrmann S, D'Alessandro U, Dahal P et al. 2015. Baseline data of parasite clearance in patients with falciparum malaria treated with an artemisinin derivative: an individual patient data meta-analysis MALARIA JOURNAL, 14 (1), | Read more

Ashley EA, Aweeka F, Barnes KI, Bassat Q, Borrmann S, Dahal P, Davis TME, Deloron P et al. 2015. Artemether-lumefantrine treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a systematic review and meta-analysis of day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and therapeutic response using individual patient data BMC Medicine, 13 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) Lumefantrine PK/PD Study Group.Background: Achieving adequate antimalarial drug exposure is essential for curing malaria. Day 7 blood or plasma lumefantrine concentrations provide a simple measure of drug exposure that correlates well with artemether-lumefantrine efficacy. However, the 'therapeutic' day 7 lumefantrine concentration threshold needs to be defined better, particularly for important patient and parasite sub-populations. Methods: The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) conducted a large pooled analysis of individual pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic data from patients treated with artemether-lumefantrine for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, to define therapeutic day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and identify patient factors that substantially alter these concentrations. A systematic review of PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar, ClinicalTrials.gov and conference proceedings identified all relevant studies. Risk of bias in individual studies was evaluated based on study design, methodology and missing data. Results: Of 31 studies identified through a systematic review, 26 studies were shared with WWARN and 21 studies with 2,787 patients were included. Recrudescence was associated with low day 7 lumefantrine concentrations (HR 1.59 (95 % CI 1.36 to 1.85) per halving of day 7 concentrations) and high baseline parasitemia (HR 1.87 (95 % CI 1.22 to 2.87) per 10-fold increase). Adjusted for mg/kg dose, day 7 concentrations were lowest in very young children (<3 years), among whom underweight-for-age children had 23 % (95 % CI -1 to 41 %) lower concentrations than adequately nourished children of the same age and 53 % (95 % CI 37 to 65 %) lower concentrations than adults. Day 7 lumefantrine concentrations were 44 % (95 % CI 38 to 49 %) lower following unsupervised treatment. The highest risk of recrudescence was observed in areas of emerging artemisinin resistance and very low transmission intensity. For all other populations studied, day 7 concentrations ≥200 ng/ml were associated with >98 % cure rates (if parasitemia <135,000/μL). Conclusions: Current artemether-lumefantrine dosing recommendations achieve day 7 lumefantrine concentrations ≥200 ng/ml and high cure rates in most uncomplicated malaria patients. Three groups are at increased risk of treatment failure: very young children (particularly those underweight-for-age); patients with high parasitemias; and patients in very low transmission intensity areas with emerging parasite resistance. In these groups, adherence and treatment response should be monitored closely. Higher, more frequent, or prolonged dosage regimens should now be evaluated in very young children, particularly if malnourished, and in patients with hyperparasitemia.

Kyabayinze DJ, Hopkins H, Mayxay M, Phommasone K, Streat E, Bwanika JB, Umlauf R, Kibira SP et al. 2015. Prototype positive control wells for malaria rapid diagnostic tests: training effectiveness, impact on RDT use and health worker perceptions in Lao PDR and Uganda TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 20 pp. 181-181.

Hopkins H, Thomas NV, Crump JA, Gonzalez IJ, Guerin PJ, Newton PN, Schellenberg D, Bell D, Reyburn H. 2015. Mapping fever aetiologies in malaria-endemic areas: an interactive, open-access, on-line map TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 20 pp. 179-179.

Paris DH, Stephan F, Bulder I, Wouters D, van der Poll T, Newton PN, Day NP, Zeerleder S. 2015. Increased Nucleosomes and Neutrophil Activation Link to Disease Progression in Patients with Scrub Typhus but Not Murine Typhus in Laos. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (8), pp. e0003990. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cell-mediated immunity is essential in protection against rickettsial illnesses, but the role of neutrophils in these intracellular vasculotropic infections remains unclear. This study analyzed the plasma levels of nucleosomes, FSAP-activation (nucleosome-releasing factor), and neutrophil activation, as evidenced by neutrophil-elastase (ELA) complexes, in sympatric Lao patients with scrub typhus and murine typhus. In acute scrub typhus elevated nucleosome levels correlated with lower GCS scores, raised respiratory rate, jaundice and impaired liver function, whereas neutrophil activation correlated with fibrinolysis and high IL-8 plasma levels, a recently identified predictor of severe disease and mortality. Nucleosome and ELA complex levels were associated with a 4.8-fold and 4-fold increased risk of developing severe scrub typhus, beyond cut off values of 1,040 U/ml for nucleosomes and 275 U/ml for ELA complexes respectively. In murine typhus, nucleosome levels associated with pro-inflammatory cytokines and the duration of illness, while ELA complexes correlated strongly with inflammation markers, jaundice and increased respiratory rates. This study found strong correlations between circulating nucleosomes and neutrophil activation in patients with scrub typhus, but not murine typhus, providing indirect evidence that nucleosomes could originate from neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) degradation. High circulating plasma nucleosomes and ELA complexes represent independent risk factors for developing severe complications in scrub typhus. As nucleosomes and histones exposed on NETs are highly cytotoxic to endothelial cells and are strongly pro-coagulant, neutrophil-derived nucleosomes could contribute to vascular damage, the pro-coagulant state and exacerbation of disease in scrub typhus, thus indicating a detrimental role of neutrophil activation. The data suggest that increased neutrophil activation relates to disease progression and severe complications, and increased plasma levels of nucleosomes and ELA complexes represent independent risk factors for developing severe scrub typhus.

Phetsouvanh R, Sonthayanon P, Pukrittayakamee S, Paris DH, Newton PN, Feil EJ, Day NP. 2015. The Diversity and Geographical Structure of Orientia tsutsugamushi Strains from Scrub Typhus Patients in Laos. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (8), pp. e0004024. | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi is the causative agent of scrub typhus, a disease transmitted by Leptotrombidium mites which is responsible for a severe and under-reported public health burden throughout Southeast Asia. Here we use multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to characterize 74 clinical isolates from three geographic locations in the Lao PDR (Laos), and compare them with isolates described from Udon Thani, northeast Thailand. The data confirm high levels of diversity and recombination within the natural O. tsutsugamushi population, and a rate of mixed infection of ~8%. We compared the relationships and geographical structuring of the strains and populations using allele based approaches (eBURST), phylogenetic approaches, and by calculating F-statistics (FST). These analyses all point towards low levels of population differentiation between isolates from Vientiane and Udon Thani, cities which straddle the Mekong River which defines the Lao/Thai border, but with a very distinct population in Salavan, southern Laos. These data highlight how land use, as well as the movement of hosts and vectors, may impact on the epidemiology of zoonotic infections.

Taylor AJ, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. A Systematic Review of Mortality from Untreated Scrub Typhus (Orientia tsutsugamushi). PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (8), pp. e0003971. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus, a bacterial infection caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is increasingly recognized as an important cause of fever in Asia, with an estimated one million infections occurring each year. Limited access to health care and the disease's non-specific symptoms mean that many patients are undiagnosed and untreated, but the mortality from untreated scrub typhus is unknown. This review systematically summarizes the literature on the untreated mortality from scrub typhus and disease outcomes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A literature search was performed to identify patient series containing untreated patients. Patients were included if they were symptomatic and had a clinical or laboratory diagnosis of scrub typhus and excluded if they were treated with antibiotics. The primary outcome was mortality from untreated scrub typhus and secondary outcomes were total days of fever, clinical symptoms, and laboratory results. A total of 76 studies containing 89 patient series and 19,644 patients were included in the final analysis. The median mortality of all patient series was 6.0% with a wide range (min-max) of 0-70%. Many studies used clinical diagnosis alone and had incomplete data on secondary outcomes. Mortality varied by location and increased with age and in patients with myocarditis, delirium, pneumonitis, or signs of hemorrhage, but not according to sex or the presence of an eschar or meningitis. Duration of fever was shown to be long (median 14.4 days Range (9-19)). CONCLUSIONS: Results show that the untreated mortality from scrub typhus appears lower than previously reported estimates. More data are required to clarify mortality according to location and host factors, clinical syndromes including myocarditis and central nervous system disease, and in vulnerable mother-child populations. Increased surveillance and improved access to diagnostic tests are required to accurately estimate the untreated mortality of scrub typhus. This information would facilitate reliable quantification of DALYs and guide empirical treatment strategies.

Mayxay M, Sengvilaipaseuth O, Chanthongthip A, Dubot-Pérès A, Rolain JM, Parola P, Craig SB, Tulsiani S et al. 2015. Causes of Fever in Rural Southern Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (3), pp. 517-520. | Show Abstract | Read more

The etiology of fever in rural Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) has remained obscure until recently owing to the lack of laboratory facilities. We conducted a study to determine the causes of fever among 229 patients without malaria in Savannakhet Province, southern Laos; 52% had evidence of at least one diagnosis (45% with single and 7% with apparent multiple infections). Among patients with only one diagnosis, dengue (30.1%) was the most common, followed by leptospirosis (7.0%), Japanese encephalitis virus infection (3.5%), scrub typhus (2.6%), spotted fever group infection (0.9%), unspecified flavivirus infection (0.9%), and murine typhus (0.4%). We discuss the empirical treatment of fever in relation to these findings.

Parry CM, Thieu NTV, Dolecek C, Karkey A, Gupta R, Turner P, Dance D, Maude RR et al. 2015. Clinically and Microbiologically Derived Azithromycin Susceptibility Breakpoints for Salmonella enterica Serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A (vol 59, pg 2756, 2015) ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY, 59 (7), pp. 4364-4364. | Read more

Dittrich S, Phuklia W, Turner GD, Rattanavong S, Chansamouth V, Dumler SJ, Ferguson DJ, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. Neorickettsia sennetsu as a Neglected Cause of Fever in South-East Asia. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (7), pp. e0003908. | Show Abstract | Read more

Neorickettsia sennetsu infection is rarely recognized, with less than 100 globally reported patients over the last 50 years. The disease is thought to be contracted by eating raw fish, a staple of many South-East Asian cuisines. In 2009, the first patient with sennetsu was identified in the Lao PDR (Laos), raising the question as to how common this organism and related species are in patients presenting with fever. We investigated the frequency of N. sennetsu infection at hospitals in diverse areas of Laos. Consenting febrile hospital inpatients from central (Vientiane: n = 1,013), northern (Luang Namtha: n = 453) and southern (Salavan: n = 171) Laos were screened by PCR for N. sennetsu, if no previous positive direct diagnostic test was available. A PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism assay was developed to differentiate between N. sennetsu, Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum. To allow more detailed studies of N. sennetsu, culture was successfully established using a reference strain (ATCC VR-367), identifying a canine-macrophage cell line (DH82) to be most suitable to visually identify infection. After screening, N. sennetsu was identified and sequence confirmed in four (4/1,637; 0.2%) Lao patients. Despite the previously identified high seroprevalence of N. sennetsu antibodies in the Lao population (~17%), acute N. sennetsu infection with sufficient clinical signs to prompt hospitalization appears to be rare. The reservoir, zoonotic cycle and pathogenicity of N. sennetsu remain unclear and require further investigations.

Parry CM, Thieu NT, Dolecek C, Karkey A, Gupta R, Turner P, Dance D, Maude RR et al. 2015. Erratum for Parry et al., Clinically and microbiologically derived azithromycin susceptibility breakpoints for Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (7), pp. 4364. | Read more

Caillet C, Sichanh C, Syhakhang L, Delpierre C, Manithip C, Mayxay M, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Newton PN, Roussin A. 2015. Population awareness of risks related to medicinal product use in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR: A cross-sectional study for public health improvement in low and middle income countries BMC Public Health, 15 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Caillet et al.Background: While essential medicines have been made more available in all but the most remote areas in low and middle income countries (L/MICs) over the past years, inappropriate and incorrect use of good quality medicines remains a key impediment for public health. In addition, as medicines have a potential to cause harm (medicine risks), adequate awareness by medicine users of the risks of adverse reactions is essential, especially as self-medication is common in L/MICs. This study aimed to investigate the awareness of Lao residents regarding medicine risks in Vientiane Capital, Lao People's Democratic Republic. Methods: Face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires of 144 residents older than 16 years were carried out in 12 randomly selected villages out of the 146 villages of Vientiane Capital with at least one health facility. Results: The respondents were mainly (85.0 %) the heads of households or their husband/spouse. The majority of the respondents were unaware (61.8 %) of medicine risks. Compared to residents living in the urban district of Xaysetha, living in peri-urban and even more in rural areas were identified as factors associated with being unaware of medicine risks [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) =3.3, 95 % Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.1-9.4]) and aOR =7.5 (95 % CI = 2.3-24.2), respectively]. In addition, more than half of the respondents had never heard of poor quality medicines, with a higher rate in rural/peri-urban compared to urban districts (55.6 % vs 38.9 %, respectively, p = 0.02). Finally, approximately one third of all respondents thought that traditional medicines could not cause harm. Conclusions: Overall, these results suggest a lack of awareness about medicinal product risks. Differences according to the place of residence are apparent and could be partly explained by a lower level of training of healthcare providers in contact with the population in the rural districts in particular. Communication on medicinal product risks to patients through well-trained healthcare providers could probably make a valuable contribution towards the appropriate use of medicines in L/MICs.

Holt KE, Wertheim H, Zadoks RN, Baker S, Whitehouse CA, Dance D, Jenney A, Connor TR et al. 2015. Genomic analysis of diversity, population structure, virulence, and antimicrobial resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae, an urgent threat to public health. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 112 (27), pp. E3574-E3581. | Show Abstract | Read more

Klebsiella pneumoniae is now recognized as an urgent threat to human health because of the emergence of multidrug-resistant strains associated with hospital outbreaks and hypervirulent strains associated with severe community-acquired infections. K. pneumoniae is ubiquitous in the environment and can colonize and infect both plants and animals. However, little is known about the population structure of K. pneumoniae, so it is difficult to recognize or understand the emergence of clinically important clones within this highly genetically diverse species. Here we present a detailed genomic framework for K. pneumoniae based on whole-genome sequencing of more than 300 human and animal isolates spanning four continents. Our data provide genome-wide support for the splitting of K. pneumoniae into three distinct species, KpI (K. pneumoniae), KpII (K. quasipneumoniae), and KpIII (K. variicola). Further, for K. pneumoniae (KpI), the entity most frequently associated with human infection, we show the existence of >150 deeply branching lineages including numerous multidrug-resistant or hypervirulent clones. We show K. pneumoniae has a large accessory genome approaching 30,000 protein-coding genes, including a number of virulence functions that are significantly associated with invasive community-acquired disease in humans. In our dataset, antimicrobial resistance genes were common among human carriage isolates and hospital-acquired infections, which generally lacked the genes associated with invasive disease. The convergence of virulence and resistance genes potentially could lead to the emergence of untreatable invasive K. pneumoniae infections; our data provide the whole-genome framework against which to track the emergence of such threats.

Dittrich S, Sunyakumthorn P, Rattanavong S, Phetsouvanh R, Panyanivong P, Sengduangphachanh A, Phouminh P, Anantatat T et al. 2015. Blood-Brain Barrier Function and Biomarkers of Central Nervous System Injury in Rickettsial Versus Other Neurological Infections in Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (2), pp. 232-237. | Show Abstract | Read more

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) function and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers were measured in patients admitted to hospital with severe neurological infections in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (N = 66), including bacterial meningitis (BM; N = 9) or tuberculosis meningitis (TBM; N = 11), Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV; N = 25), and rickettsial infections (N = 21) including murine and scrub typhus patients. The albumin index (AI) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) levels were significantly higher in BM and TBM than other diseases but were also raised in individual rickettsial patients. Total tau protein was significantly raised in the CSF of JEV patients. No differences were found between clinical or neurological symptoms, AI, or biomarker levels that allowed distinction between severe neurological involvement by Orientia tsutsugamushi compared with Rickettsia species.

Taylor AJ, Paris DH, Newton PN. 2015. A Systematic Review of the Mortality from Untreated Leptospirosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (6), pp. e0003866. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Leptospirosis occurs worldwide, but the global incidence of human disease and its mortality are not well understood. Many patients are undiagnosed and untreated due to its non-specific symptoms and a lack of access to diagnostics. This study systematically reviews the literature to clarify the mortality from untreated leptospirosis. Results will help quantify the global burden of disease and guide health policies. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify untreated patient series. Included patients were symptomatic, but asymptomatic patients and those who had received antibiotics, dialysis or who were treated on Intensive Care Units were excluded. Included patients had a confirmed laboratory diagnosis by culture, PCR, or serological tests. Data was extracted and individual patient series were assessed for bias. Thirty-five studies, comprising 41 patient series and 3,390 patients, were included in the study. A high degree of bias within studies was shown due to limitations in study design, diagnostic tests and missing data. Median series mortality was 2.2% (Range 0.0-39.7%), but mortality was high in jaundiced patients (19.1%) (Range 0.0-39.7%), those with renal failure 12.1% (Range 0-25.0%) and in patients aged over 60 (60%) (Range 33.3-60%), but low in anicteric patients (0%) (Range 0-1.7%). CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review contributes to our understanding of the mortality of untreated leptospirosis and provides data for the estimation of DALYs attributable to this disease. We show that mortality is significantly higher in older patients with icteric disease or renal failure but is lower in younger, anicteric patients. Increased surveillance and accurate point-of-care diagnostics are required to better understand the incidence and improve diagnosis of disease. Empirical treatment strategies should prioritize early treatment to improve outcomes from leptospirosis.

Wong VK, Baker S, Pickard DJ, Parkhill J, Page AJ, Feasey NA, Kingsley RA, Thomson NR et al. 2015. Phylogeographical analysis of the dominant multidrug-resistant H58 clade of Salmonella Typhi identifies inter- and intracontinental transmission events. Nat Genet, 47 (6), pp. 632-639. | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) typhoid is a major global health threat affecting many countries where the disease is endemic. Here whole-genome sequence analysis of 1,832 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) identifies a single dominant MDR lineage, H58, that has emerged and spread throughout Asia and Africa over the last 30 years. Our analysis identifies numerous transmissions of H58, including multiple transfers from Asia to Africa and an ongoing, unrecognized MDR epidemic within Africa itself. Notably, our analysis indicates that H58 lineages are displacing antibiotic-sensitive isolates, transforming the global population structure of this pathogen. H58 isolates can harbor a complex MDR element residing either on transmissible IncHI1 plasmids or within multiple chromosomal integration sites. We also identify new mutations that define the H58 lineage. This phylogeographical analysis provides a framework to facilitate global management of MDR typhoid and is applicable to similar MDR lineages emerging in other bacterial species.

Phommasone K, Sengvilaipaseuth O, de Lamballerie X, Vongsouvath M, Phonemixay O, Blacksell SD, Newton PN, Dubot-Pérès A. 2015. Temperature and the field stability of a dengue rapid diagnostic test in the tropics. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (1), pp. 33-39. | Show Abstract | Read more

The global incidence of dengue has increased significantly in recent decades, resulting in a large public health burden in tropical and subtropical countries. Dengue rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) can provide accurate, rapid accessible diagnosis for patient management and may be easily used by health workers in rural areas. However, in dengue-endemic areas, ambient temperatures are often higher than manufacturer's recommendation. We therefore evaluated the effect of high temperature over time on the performance of one commonly used dengue RDT, the Standard Diagnostics Bioline Dengue Duo. RDTs were kept in five different conditions (at 4°C, 35°C, 45°C, 60°C, and at fluctuant ambient temperatures in a free-standing hut) for between 2 days and 2 years in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). RDTs were tested with four control sera (negative, dengue nonstructural protein 1 [NS1], anti-dengue immunoglobulin [Ig] M, and anti-dengue IgG positive). The RDTs had 100% consistency over the 2-year study, despite high temperatures, including in the hut in which temperatures exceeded the manufacturer's recommendations for 29% of time points. These data suggest that the diagnostic accuracy of the SD Bioline Dengue Duo RDT remains stable even after long-term storage at high temperatures. Therefore, use at such ambient temperatures in tropical areas should not jeopardize the dengue diagnostic outcome.

Nayyar GM, Attaran A, Clark JP, Culzoni MJ, Fernandez FM, Herrington JE, Kendall M, Newton PN, Breman JG. 2015. Responding to the pandemic of falsified medicines. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 113-118. | Show Abstract | Read more

Over the past decade, the number of countries reporting falsified (fake, spurious/falsely labeled/counterfeit) medicines and the types and quantities of fraudulent drugs being distributed have increased greatly. The obstacles in combatting falsified pharmaceuticals include 1) lack of consensus on definitions, 2) paucity of reliable and scalable technology to detect fakes before they reach patients, 3) poor global and national leadership and accountability systems for combating this scourge, and 4) deficient manufacturing and regulatory challenges, especially in China and India where fake products often originate. The major needs to improve the quality of the world's medicines fall into three main areas: 1) research to develop and compare accurate and affordable tools to identify high-quality drugs at all levels of distribution; 2) an international convention and national legislation to facilitate production and utilization of high-quality drugs and protect all countries from the criminal and the negligent who make, distribute, and sell life-threatening products; and 3) a highly qualified, well-supported international science and public health organization that will establish standards, drug-quality surveillance, and training programs like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Such leadership would give authoritative guidance for countries in cooperation with national medical regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and international agencies, all of which have an urgent interest and investment in ensuring that patients throughout the world have access to good quality medicines. The organization would also advocate strongly for including targets for achieving good quality medicines in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

Tabernero P, Mayxay M, Culzoni MJ, Dwivedi P, Swamidoss I, Allan EL, Khanthavong M, Phonlavong C et al. 2015. A Repeat Random Survey of the Prevalence of Falsified and Substandard Antimalarials in the Lao PDR: A Change for the Better. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 95-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

In 2003, a stratified random sample survey was conducted in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) to study the availability and quality of antimalarials in the private sector. In 2012, this survey was repeated to allow a statistically valid analysis of change through time. The counterfeit detection device 3 (CD-3) was used to assess packaging quality in the field and HPLC and mass spectroscopy analysis chemical analysis performed. The availability of oral artesunate monotherapies had significantly decreased from 22.9% (22) of 96 outlets in southern Laos in 2003 to 4.8% (7) of 144 outlets in 2012 (P < 0.0001). All the samples collected in the 2012 survey contained the correct active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in contrast to the 21 (84%) falsified artesunate samples found in the 2003 survey. Although none of the medicines found in 2012 survey had evidence for falsification, 25.4% (37) of the samples were outside the 90-110% pharmacopeial limits of the label claim, suggesting that they were substandard or degraded. Results obtained from this survey show that patients are still exposed to poorly manufactured drugs or to ineffective medicines such as chloroquine. The quality of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) used in Laos needs to be monitored, since falsified ACTs would have devastating consequences in public health.

Green MD, Hostetler DM, Nettey H, Swamidoss I, Ranieri N, Newton PN. 2015. Integration of novel low-cost colorimetric, laser photometric, and visual fluorescent techniques for rapid identification of falsified medicines in resource-poor areas: application to artemether-lumefantrine. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 8-16. | Show Abstract | Read more

The availability of falsified antimalarial drugs can be reduced with effective drug regulatory agencies and proper enforcement. Fundamental to these agencies taking action, rapid identification must be made as soon as they appear in the market place. Since falsified antimalarials occur mostly in developing countries, performing drug analysis presents itself with unique challenges. A fundamental factor in choosing a useful technique is affordability and simplicity. Therefore, we suggest a three-tiered drug evaluation strategy for identifying a falsified drug in resource-poor areas. Tier I is a simple comparison of a tablet's weight and dimensions with official specifications. Tier II uses inexpensive photometric devices (laser and fluorescence) to evaluate a tablet. Suspicious samples from Tier I and II assessments are then subjected to a colorimetric assay for active ingredients identification and quantification. In this article, we evaluate a novel colorimetric assay for the simultaneous assessment of both lumefantrine and artemether in co-formulated Coartem™ tablets, and integrate the method with two novel, low-cost, fluorescence and laser photometric devices. Image analysis software is used for the assessments. Although artemether-lumefantrine is used as an example, the strategy may be adapted to other medicines.

Renschler JP, Walters KM, Newton PN, Laxminarayan R. 2015. Estimated under-five deaths associated with poor-quality antimalarials in sub-Saharan Africa. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 119-126. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many antimalarials sold in sub-Saharan Africa are poor-quality (falsified, substandard, or degraded), and the burden of disease caused by this problem is inadequately quantified. In this article, we estimate the number of under-five deaths caused by ineffective treatment of malaria associated with consumption of poor-quality antimalarials in 39 sub-Saharan countries. Using Latin hypercube sampling our estimates were calculated as the product of the number of private sector antimalarials consumed by malaria-positive children in 2013; the proportion of private sector antimalarials consumed that were of poor-quality; and the case fatality rate (CFR) of under-five malaria-positive children who did not receive appropriate treatment. An estimated 122,350 (interquartile range [IQR]: 91,577-154,736) under-five malaria deaths were associated with consumption of poor-quality antimalarials, representing 3.75% (IQR: 2.81-4.75%) of all under-five deaths in our sample of 39 countries. There is considerable uncertainty surrounding our results because of gaps in data on case fatality rates and prevalence of poor-quality antimalarials. Our analysis highlights the need for further investigation into the distribution of poor-quality antimalarials and the need for stronger surveillance and regulatory efforts to prevent the sale of poor-quality antimalarials.

Yong YL, Plançon A, Lau YH, Hostetler DM, Fernández FM, Green MD, Sounvoravong S, Nara S et al. 2015. Collaborative health and enforcement operations on the quality of antimalarials and antibiotics in southeast Asia. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 92 (6 Suppl), pp. 105-112. | Show Abstract | Read more

Counterfeit (or falsified) and substandard medicines pose a major public health risk. We describe the findings of Operation Storm I and II conducted in 2008-2009 to combat counterfeit medicines through partnership between national customs, Drug Regulatory Agencies (DRAs), and police in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Samples were obtained from seizures and market surveillance by national DRAs. Laboratory analysis using spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques and examination of packaging were performed. Ninety-three suspect antibiotics and 95 antimalarial samples were collected. Of the 93 antibiotics, 29 (31%) had % active pharmaceutical ingredient content (%API) < 85% or > 115% (including one counterfeit). Of the 95 antimalarials, 30 (32%) had %API < 85 > 115% API (including one counterfeit). A significant minority of samples, antimalarials (13%) and antibiotics (15%), were collected in plastic bags with minimal or no labeling. Of 20 ampicillin samples, 13 (65%) contained < 85% API (with one counterfeit containing additional amoxicillin). Of 34 oral artesunate samples, 7 (21%) contained %API out of the 85-115% range. Coordinated and synergistic partnership adopted by the participating countries, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), World Health Organization (WHO), and laboratories facilitated a platform for discussions and intelligence sharing, helping to improve each participating country's capacity to combat poor-quality medicines.

Quet F, Vlieghe E, Leyer C, Buisson Y, Newton PN, Naphayvong P, Keoluangkhot V, Chomarat M, Longuet C, Steenkeste N, Jacobs J. 2015. Antibiotic prescription behaviours in Lao People's Democratic Republic: a knowledge, attitude and practice survey. Bull World Health Organ, 93 (4), pp. 219-227. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the antibiotic prescribing practices of doctors working in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and their knowledge of local antibiotic resistance patterns. METHODS: Doctors attending morning meetings in 25 public hospitals in four provinces were asked to complete a knowledge, attitude and practice survey. The questionnaire contained 43 multiple choice questions that the doctor answered at the time of the meeting. FINDINGS: The response rate was 83.4% (386/463). Two hundred and seventy doctors (59.8%) declared that they had insufficient information about antibiotics. Only 14.0% (54/386) recognized the possibility of cephalosporin cross-resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Most participants had no information about local antibiotic resistance for Salmonella Typhi (211/385, 54.8%) and hospital-acquired pneumonia (253/384, 65.9%). Unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions were considered as harmless by 115 participants and 148 considered locally-available generic antibiotics to be of poor quality. Nearly three-quarters (280/386) of participants agreed that it was difficult to select the correct antibiotics. Most participants (373/386) welcomed educational programmes on antibiotic prescribing and 65.0% (249/383) preferred local over international antibiotic guidelines. CONCLUSION: Doctors in the Lao People's Democratic Republic seem to favour antibiotic prescribing interventions. Health authorities should consider a capacity building programme that incorporates antibiotic prescribing and hospital infection control.

Knappik M, Dance DA, Rattanavong S, Pierret A, Ribolzi O, Davong V, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN, Dittrich S. 2015. Evaluation of Molecular Methods To Improve the Detection of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Soil and Water Samples from Laos. Appl Environ Microbiol, 81 (11), pp. 3722-3727. | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkholderia pseudomallei is the cause of melioidosis, a severe and potentially fatal disease of humans and animals. It is endemic in northern Australia and Southeast Asia and is found in soil and surface water. The environmental distribution of B. pseudomallei worldwide and within countries where it is endemic, such as the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos), remains unclear. However, this knowledge is important to our understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of B. pseudomallei and to facilitate public health interventions. Sensitive and specific methods to detect B. pseudomallei in environmental samples are therefore needed. The aim of this study was to compare molecular and culture-based methods for the detection of B. pseudomallei in soil and surface water in order to identify the optimal approach for future environmental studies in Laos. Molecular detection by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) was attempted after DNA extraction directly from soil or water samples or after an overnight enrichment step. The positivity rates obtained by qPCR were compared to those obtained by different culture techniques. The rate of detection from soil samples by qPCR following culture enrichment was significantly higher (84/100) than that by individual culture methods and all culture methods combined (44/100; P < 0.001). Similarly, qPCR following enrichment was the most sensitive method for filtered river water compared with the sensitivity of the individual methods and all individual methods combined. In conclusion, molecular detection following an enrichment step has proven to be a sensitive and reliable approach for B. pseudomallei detection in Lao environmental samples and is recommended as the preferred method for future surveys.

Nic Fhogartaigh C, Dance DA, Davong V, Tann P, Phetsouvanh R, Turner P, Dittrich S, Newton PN. 2015. A novel technique for detecting antibiotic-resistant typhoid from rapid diagnostic tests. J Clin Microbiol, 53 (5), pp. 1758-1760. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fluoroquinolone-resistant typhoid is increasing. An antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic test (RDT) can rapidly diagnose typhoid from blood cultures. A simple, inexpensive molecular technique performed with DNA from positive RDTs accurately identified gyrA mutations consistent with phenotypic susceptibility testing results. Field diagnosis combined with centralized molecular resistance testing could improve typhoid management and surveillance in low-resource settings.

Parry CM, Thieu NT, Dolecek C, Karkey A, Gupta R, Turner P, Dance D, Maude RR et al. 2015. Clinically and microbiologically derived azithromycin susceptibility breakpoints for Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (5), pp. 2756-2764. | Show Abstract | Read more

Azithromycin is an effective treatment for uncomplicated infections with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and serovar Paratyphi A (enteric fever), but there are no clinically validated MIC and disk zone size interpretative guidelines. We studied individual patient data from three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of antimicrobial treatment in enteric fever in Vietnam, with azithromycin used in one treatment arm, to determine the relationship between azithromycin treatment response and the azithromycin MIC of the infecting isolate. We additionally compared the azithromycin MIC and the disk susceptibility zone sizes of 1,640 S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A clinical isolates collected from seven Asian countries. In the RCTs, 214 patients who were treated with azithromycin at a dose of 10 to 20 mg/ml for 5 to 7 days were analyzed. Treatment was successful in 195 of 214 (91%) patients, with no significant difference in response (cure rate, fever clearance time) with MICs ranging from 4 to 16 μg/ml. The proportion of Asian enteric fever isolates with an MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml was 1,452/1,460 (99.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 98.9 to 99.7) for S. Typhi and 207/240 (86.3%; 95% CI, 81.2 to 90.3) (P < 0.001) for S. Paratyphi A. A zone size of ≥ 13 mm to a 5-μg azithromycin disk identified S. Typhi isolates with an MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml with a sensitivity of 99.7%. An azithromycin MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml or disk inhibition zone size of ≥ 13 mm enabled the detection of susceptible S. Typhi isolates that respond to azithromycin treatment. Further work is needed to define the response to treatment in S. Typhi isolates with an azithromycin MIC of >16 μg/ml and to determine MIC and disk breakpoints for S. Paratyphi A.

Stoesser N, Xayaheuang S, Vongsouvath M, Phommasone K, Elliott I, Del Ojo Elias C, Crook DW, Newton PN, Buisson Y, Lee SJ, Dance DA. 2015. Colonization with Enterobacteriaceae producing ESBLs in children attending pre-school childcare facilities in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. J Antimicrob Chemother, 70 (6), pp. 1893-1897. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Intestinal carriage constitutes an important reservoir of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, with some of the highest rates reported from Asia. Antibiotic resistance has been little studied in Laos, where some antibiotics are available without restriction, but others such as carbapenems are not available. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We collected stools from 397 healthy children in 12 randomly selected pre-school childcare facilities in and around Vientiane. Colonization with ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBLE) and carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) was detected using a disc diffusion screening test and ESBLE were characterized using WGS. Risk factor data were collected by questionnaire. RESULTS: Ninety-two children (23%) were colonized with ESBLE, mainly Escherichia coli carrying blaCTX-M and Klebsiella pneumoniae carrying blaSHV or blaCTX-M, which were frequently resistant to multiple antibiotic classes. Although residence in Vientiane Capital, foreign travel, higher maternal level of education, antibiotic use in the preceding 3 months and attending a childcare facility with a 'good' level of hygiene were all associated with ESBLE colonization on univariable analysis, a significant association remained only for antibiotic use when a stepwise approach was used with a multivariate random-effects model. WGS analysis suggested transmission in both childcare facilities and community settings. CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of paediatric colonization with ESBLE in Laos, one of the highest reported in Asia, is probably the result of inappropriate antibiotic use. Paediatric colonization with CPE was not identified in this study, but it is important to continue to monitor the spread of antibiotic-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in Laos.

Keita AK, Dubot-Pérès A, Phommasone K, Sibounheuang B, Vongsouvath M, Mayxay M, Raoult D, Newton PN, Fenollar F. 2015. High prevalence of Tropheryma whipplei in Lao kindergarten children. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (2), pp. e0003538. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Tropheryma whipplei is a bacterium commonly found in feces of young children in Africa, but with no data from Asia. We estimated the prevalence of T. whipplei carriage in feces of children in Lao PDR (Laos). METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using specific quantitative real-time PCR, followed by genotyping for each positive specimen, we estimated the prevalence of T. whipplei in 113 feces from 106 children in Vientiane, the Lao PDR (Laos). T. whipplei was detected in 48% (51/106) of children. Those aged ≤ 4 years were significantly less frequently positive (17/52, 33%) than older children (34/54, 63%; p< 0.001). Positive samples were genotyped. Eight genotypes were detected including 7 specific to Laos. Genotype 2, previously detected in Europe, was circulating (21% of positive children) in 2 kindergartens (Chompet and Akad). Genotypes 136 and 138 were specific to Chompet (21% and 15.8%, respectively) whereas genotype 139 was specific to Akad (10.55%). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: T. whipplei is a widely distributed bacterium, highly prevalent in feces of healthy children in Laos. Further research is needed to identify the public health significance of this finding.

Dittrich S, Rattanavong S, Lee SJ, Panyanivong P, Craig SB, Tulsiani SM, Blacksell SD, Dance DA et al. 2015. Orientia, rickettsia, and leptospira pathogens as causes of CNS infections in Laos: a prospective study. Lancet Glob Health, 3 (2), pp. e104-e112. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus (caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi), murine typhus (caused by Rickettsia typhi), and leptospirosis are common causes of febrile illness in Asia; meningitis and meningoencephalitis are severe complications. However, scarce data exist for the burden of these pathogens in patients with CNS disease in endemic countries. Laos is representative of vast economically poor rural areas in Asia with little medical information to guide public health policy. We assessed whether these pathogens are important causes of CNS infections in Laos. METHODS: Between Jan 10, 2003, and Nov 25, 2011, we enrolled 1112 consecutive patients of all ages admitted with CNS symptoms or signs requiring a lumbar puncture at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos. Microbiological examinations (culture, PCR, and serology) targeted so-called conventional bacterial infections (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, S suis) and O tsutsugamushi, Rickettsia typhi/Rickettsia spp, and Leptospira spp infections in blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We analysed and compared causes and clinical and CSF characteristics between patient groups. FINDINGS: 1051 (95%) of 1112 patients who presented had CSF available for analysis, of whom 254 (24%) had a CNS infection attributable to a bacterial or fungal pathogen. 90 (35%) of these 254 infections were caused by O tsutsugamushi, R typhi/Rickettsia spp, or Leptospira spp. These pathogens were significantly more frequent than conventional bacterial infections (90/1051 [9%] vs 42/1051 [4%]; p<0·0001) by use of conservative diagnostic definitions. CNS infections had a high mortality (236/876 [27%]), with 18% (13/71) for R typhi/Rickettsia spp, O tsutsugamushi, and Leptospira spp combined, and 33% (13/39) for conventional bacterial infections (p=0·076). INTERPRETATION: Our data suggest that R typhi/Rickettsia spp, O tsutsugamushi, and Leptospira spp infections are important causes of CNS infections in Laos. Antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, needed for the treatment of murine typhus and scrub typhus, are not routinely advised for empirical treatment of CNS infections. These severely neglected infections represent a potentially large proportion of treatable CNS disease burden across vast endemic areas and need more attention. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust UK.

Li C, Barnes E, Newton PN, Fu Y, Vongsouvath M, Klenerman P, Okamoto H, Abe K, Pybus OG, Lu L. 2015. An expanded taxonomy of hepatitis C virus genotype 6: Characterization of 22 new full-length viral genomes. Virology, 476 pp. 355-363. | Show Abstract | Read more

We characterized the full-length genomes of 22 hepatitis C virus genotype 6 (HCV-6) isolates: 10 from Vietnam (classified into subtypes 6e, 6h, 6p, 6r, 6s, and 6u), one from China (confirmed as a new subtype 6xd), and 11 from the Lao PDR (representing a new subtype 6xe plus eight novel variants). With these 22 new genomes, HCV-6 now has a diverse and extended taxonomic structure, comprised of 28 assigned subtypes (denoted 6a-6xe) and 27 unassigned lineages, all of which have been represented by full-length genomes. Our phylogenetic analyses also included many partially-sequenced novel variants of HCV-6 from Lao PDR. This revealed that Lao HCV isolates are genetically very diverse and are phylogenetically distributed in multiple lineages within genotype 6. Our results suggest that HCV-6 has been maintained in Laos, a landlocked country, since the common ancestor of genotype 6 and indicates historical dispersal of HCV-6 across Southeast Asia.

Miotto O, Amato R, Ashley EA, MacInnis B, Almagro-Garcia J, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Mead D et al. 2015. Genetic architecture of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Nat Genet, 47 (3), pp. 226-234. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a large multicenter genome-wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin, the frontline antimalarial drug. Across 15 locations in Southeast Asia, we identified at least 20 mutations in kelch13 (PF3D7_1343700) affecting the encoded propeller and BTB/POZ domains, which were associated with a slow parasite clearance rate after treatment with artemisinin derivatives. Nonsynonymous polymorphisms in fd (ferredoxin), arps10 (apicoplast ribosomal protein S10), mdr2 (multidrug resistance protein 2) and crt (chloroquine resistance transporter) also showed strong associations with artemisinin resistance. Analysis of the fine structure of the parasite population showed that the fd, arps10, mdr2 and crt polymorphisms are markers of a genetic background on which kelch13 mutations are particularly likely to arise and that they correlate with the contemporary geographical boundaries and population frequencies of artemisinin resistance. These findings indicate that the risk of new resistance-causing mutations emerging is determined by specific predisposing genetic factors in the underlying parasite population.

Otte WM, van Diessen E, van Eijsden P, van der Maas F, Patsalos PN, Newton PN, Alvarenga IC, Braun KP, Sander JW. 2015. Counterfeit antiepileptic drugs threaten community services in Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria. Lancet Neurol, 14 (11), pp. 1075-1076. | Read more

Caillet C, Sichanh C, Syhakhang L, Delpierre C, Manithip C, Mayxay M, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Newton PN, Roussin A. 2015. Population awareness of risks related to medicinal product use in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR: a cross-sectional study for public health improvement in low and middle income countries. BMC Public Health, 15 (1), pp. 590. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: While essential medicines have been made more available in all but the most remote areas in low and middle income countries (L/MICs) over the past years, inappropriate and incorrect use of good quality medicines remains a key impediment for public health. In addition, as medicines have a potential to cause harm (medicine risks), adequate awareness by medicine users of the risks of adverse reactions is essential, especially as self-medication is common in L/MICs. This study aimed to investigate the awareness of Lao residents regarding medicine risks in Vientiane Capital, Lao People's Democratic Republic. METHODS: Face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires of 144 residents older than 16 years were carried out in 12 randomly selected villages out of the 146 villages of Vientiane Capital with at least one health facility. RESULTS: The respondents were mainly (85.0 %) the heads of households or their husband/spouse . The majority of the respondents were unaware (61.8 %) of medicine risks. Compared to residents living in the urban district of Xaysetha, living in peri-urban and even more in rural areas were identified as factors associated with being unaware of medicine risks [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) =3.3, 95 % Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.1-9.4]) and aOR =7.5 (95 % CI = 2.3-24.2), respectively]. In addition, more than half of the respondents had never heard of poor quality medicines, with a higher rate in rural/peri-urban compared to urban districts (55.6 % vs 38.9 %, respectively, p = 0.02). Finally, approximately one third of all respondents thought that traditional medicines could not cause harm. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these results suggest a lack of awareness about medicinal product risks. Differences according to the place of residence are apparent and could be partly explained by a lower level of training of healthcare providers in contact with the population in the rural districts in particular. Communication on medicinal product risks to patients through well-trained healthcare providers could probably make a valuable contribution towards the appropriate use of medicines in L/MICs.

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Wong VK, Baker S, Pickard DJ, Parkhill J, Page AJ, Feasey NA, Kingsley RA, Thomson NR et al. 2015. Phylogeographical analysis of the dominant multidrug-resistant H58 clade of Salmonella Typhi identifies inter-and intracontinental transmission events Nature Genetics, 47 (6), pp. 632-639. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) typhoid is a major global health threat affecting many countries where the disease is endemic. Here whole-genome sequence analysis of 1,832 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) identifies a single dominant MDR lineage, H58, that has emerged and spread throughout Asia and Africa over the last 30 years. Our analysis identifies numerous transmissions of H58, including multiple transfers from Asia to Africa and an ongoing, unrecognized MDR epidemic within Africa itself. Notably, our analysis indicates that H58 lineages are displacing antibiotic-sensitive isolates, transforming the global population structure of this pathogen. H58 isolates can harbor a complex MDR element residing either on transmissible IncHI1 plasmids or within multiple chromosomal integration sites. We also identify new mutations that define the H58 lineage. This phylogeographical analysis provides a framework to facilitate global management of MDR typhoid and is applicable to similar MDR lineages emerging in other bacterial species.

Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) AL Dose Impact Study Group. 2015. The effect of dose on the antimalarial efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine: a systematic review and pooled analysis of individual patient data. Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (6), pp. 692-702. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemether-lumefantrine is the most widely used artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria, although treatment failures occur in some regions. We investigated the effect of dosing strategy on efficacy in a pooled analysis from trials done in a wide range of malaria-endemic settings. METHODS: We searched PubMed for clinical trials that enrolled and treated patients with artemether-lumefantrine and were published from 1960 to December, 2012. We merged individual patient data from these trials by use of standardised methods. The primary endpoint was the PCR-adjusted risk of Plasmodium falciparum recrudescence by day 28. Secondary endpoints consisted of the PCR-adjusted risk of P falciparum recurrence by day 42, PCR-unadjusted risk of P falciparum recurrence by day 42, early parasite clearance, and gametocyte carriage. Risk factors for PCR-adjusted recrudescence were identified using Cox's regression model with frailty shared across the study sites. FINDINGS: We included 61 studies done between January, 1998, and December, 2012, and included 14,327 patients in our analyses. The PCR-adjusted therapeutic efficacy was 97·6% (95% CI 97·4-97·9) at day 28 and 96·0% (95·6-96·5) at day 42. After controlling for age and parasitaemia, patients prescribed a higher dose of artemether had a lower risk of having parasitaemia on day 1 (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·86-0·99 for every 1 mg/kg increase in daily artemether dose; p=0·024), but not on day 2 (p=0·69) or day 3 (0·087). In Asia, children weighing 10-15 kg who received a total lumefantrine dose less than 60 mg/kg had the lowest PCR-adjusted efficacy (91·7%, 95% CI 86·5-96·9). In Africa, the risk of treatment failure was greatest in malnourished children aged 1-3 years (PCR-adjusted efficacy 94·3%, 95% CI 92·3-96·3). A higher artemether dose was associated with a lower gametocyte presence within 14 days of treatment (adjusted OR 0·92, 95% CI 0·85-0·99; p=0·037 for every 1 mg/kg increase in total artemether dose). INTERPRETATION: The recommended dose of artemether-lumefantrine provides reliable efficacy in most patients with uncomplicated malaria. However, therapeutic efficacy was lowest in young children from Asia and young underweight children from Africa; a higher dose regimen should be assessed in these groups. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Newton PN, Schellenberg D, Ashley EA, Ravinetto R, Green MD, ter Kuile FO, Tabernero P, White NJ, Guerin PJ. 2015. Quality assurance of drugs used in clinical trials: proposal for adapting guidelines. BMJ, 350 (feb25 10), pp. h602. | Read more

Mok S, Ashley EA, Ferreira PE, Zhu L, Lin Z, Yeo T, Chotivanich K, Imwong M et al. 2015. Drug resistance. Population transcriptomics of human malaria parasites reveals the mechanism of artemisinin resistance. Science, 347 (6220), pp. 431-435. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum threatens global efforts to control and eliminate malaria. Polymorphisms in the kelch domain-carrying protein K13 are associated with artemisinin resistance, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. We analyzed the in vivo transcriptomes of 1043 P. falciparum isolates from patients with acute malaria and found that artemisinin resistance is associated with increased expression of unfolded protein response (UPR) pathways involving the major PROSC and TRiC chaperone complexes. Artemisinin-resistant parasites also exhibit decelerated progression through the first part of the asexual intraerythrocytic development cycle. These findings suggest that artemisinin-resistant parasites remain in a state of decelerated development at the young ring stage, whereas their up-regulated UPR pathways mitigate protein damage caused by artemisinin. The expression profiles of UPR-related genes also associate with the geographical origin of parasite isolates, further suggesting their role in emerging artemisinin resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Rattanavong S, Fournier PE, Chu V, Frichitthavong K, Kesone P, Mayxay M, Mirabel M, Newton PN. 2014. Bartonella henselae endocarditis in Laos - 'the unsought will go undetected'. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (12), pp. e3385. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Both endocarditis and Bartonella infections are neglected public health problems, especially in rural Asia. Bartonella endocarditis has been described from wealthier countries in Asia, Japan, Korea, Thailand and India but there are no reports from poorer countries, such as the Lao PDR (Laos), probably because people have neglected to look. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We conducted a retrospective (2006-2012), and subsequent prospective study (2012-2013), at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos, through liaison between the microbiology laboratory and the wards. Patients aged >1 year admitted with definite or possible endocarditis according to modified Duke criteria were included. In view of the strong suspicion of infective endocarditis, acute and convalescent sera from 30 patients with culture negative endocarditis were tested for antibodies to Brucella melitensis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Bartonella quintana, B. henselae, Coxiella burnetii and Legionella pneumophila. Western blot analysis using Bartonella species antigens enabled us to describe the first two Lao patients with known Bartonella henselae endocarditis. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: We argue that it is likely that Bartonella endocarditis is neglected and more widespread than appreciated, as there are few laboratories in Asia able to make the diagnosis. Considering the high prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in Asia, there is remarkably little evidence on the bacterial etiology of endocarditis. Most evidence is derived from wealthy countries and investigation of the aetiology and optimal management of endocarditis in low income countries has been neglected. Interest in Bartonella as neglected pathogens is emerging, and improved methods for the rapid diagnosis of Bartonella endocarditis are needed, as it is likely that proven Bartonella endocarditis can be treated with simpler and less expensive regimens than "conventional" endocarditis and multicenter trials to optimize treatment are required. More understanding is needed on the risk factors for Bartonella endocarditis and the importance of vectors and vector control.

Mirabel M, Rattanavong S, Frichitthavong K, Chu V, Kesone P, Thongsith P, Jouven X, Fournier PE, Dance DA, Newton PN. 2015. Infective endocarditis in the Lao PDR: clinical characteristics and outcomes in a developing country. Int J Cardiol, 180 pp. 270-273. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Data on infective endocarditis (IE) in Southeast Asia are scarce. OBJECTIVES: To describe the clinical epidemiology of IE in Lao PDR, a lower middle-income country. METHODS: A single centre retrospective study at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane. Patients aged over 1year of age admitted 2006-2012 to Mahosot Hospital with definite or possible IE by modified Duke criteria were included. RESULTS: Thirty-six patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria; 33 (91.7%) had left-sided IE. Eleven (30.6%) had definite IE and 25 (69.4%) possible left-sided IE. Median age was 25years old [IQR 18-42]. Fifteen patients (41.7%) were males. Underlying heart diseases included: rheumatic valve disease in 12 (33.3%), congenital heart disease in 7 (19.4%), degenerative valve disease in 3 (8.3%), and of unknown origin in 14 (38.9%) patients. Native valve IE was present in 30 patients (83.3%), and prosthetic valve IE in 6 patients (16.7%). The most frequent pathogens were Streptococcus spp. in 7 (19.4%). Blood cultures were negative in 22 patients (61.1%). Complications included: heart failure in 11 (30.6%), severe valve regurgitation in 7 (19.4%); neurological event in 7 (19.4%); septic shock or severe sepsis in 5 (13.9%); and cardiogenic shock in 3 patients (8.3%). No patient underwent heart surgery. Fourteen (38.9%) had died by follow-up after a median of 2.1years [IQR 1-3.2]; and 3 (8.3%) were lost to follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Infective endocarditis, a disease especially of young adults and mainly caused by Streptococcus spp., was associated with rheumatic heart disease and had high mortality in Laos.

Day J, Imran D, Ganiem AR, Tjahjani N, Wahyuningsih R, Adawiyah R, Dance D, Mayxay M et al. 2014. CryptoDex: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial of adjunctive dexamethasone in HIV-infected adults with cryptococcal meningitis: study protocol for a randomised control trial. Trials, 15 (1), pp. 441. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is a severe AIDS-defining illness with 90-day case mortality as high as 70% in sub-Saharan Africa, despite treatment. It is the leading cause of death in HIV patients in Asia and Africa.No major advance has been made in the treatment of CM since the 1970s. The mainstays of induction therapy are amphotericin B and flucytosine, but these are often poorly available where the disease burden is highest. Adjunctive treatments, such as dexamethasone, have had dramatic effects on mortality in other neurologic infections, but are untested in CM. Given the high death rates in patients receiving current optimal treatment, and the lack of new agents on the horizon, adjuvant treatments, which offer the potential to reduce mortality in CM, should be tested.The principal research question posed by this study is as follows: does adding dexamethasone to standard antifungal therapy for CM reduce mortality? Dexamethasone is a cheap, readily available, and practicable intervention. METHOD: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial with parallel arms in which patients are randomised to receive either dexamethasone or placebo, in addition to local standard of care. The study recruits patients in both Asia and Africa to ensure the relevance of its results to the populations in which the disease burden is highest. The 10-week mortality risk in the control group is expected to be between 30% and 50%, depending on location, and the target hazard ratio of 0.7 corresponds to absolute risk reductions in mortality from 30% to 22%, or from 50% to 38%. Assuming an overall 10-week mortality of at least 30% in our study population, recruitment of 824 patients will be sufficient to observe the expected number of deaths. Allowing for some loss to follow-up, the total sample size for this study is 880 patients. To generate robust evidence across both continents, we aim to recruit roughly similar numbers of patients from each continent. The primary end point is 10-week mortality. Ethical approval has been obtained from Oxford University's Tropical Research Ethics Committee (OxTREC), and as locally mandated at each site. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number: ISRCTN59144167 26-July-2012.

Nguyen VH, Sibounheuang B, Phommasone K, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN, Piorkowski G, Baronti C, de Lamballerie X, Dubot-Pérès A. 2014. First isolation and genomic characterization of enterovirus A71 and coxsackievirus A16 from hand foot and mouth disease patients in the Lao PDR. New Microbes New Infect, 2 (6), pp. 170-172. | Show Abstract | Read more

Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) and coxsackievirus A16 (CV-A16) are major aetiological agents of hand, foot and mouth disease in Asia. We established the first genomic characterization of strains isolated in 2011 from Lao patients. Isolates were related to EV-A71 genotype C4 and CV-A16 genotype B1a that circulated in neighbouring countries during the same period. This confirms the regional character of hand, foot and mouth disease epidemiology and makes plausible the occurrence of severe disease in the Lao population.

Abraham C, Newton P. 2014. Fighting fake malaria meds NEW SCIENTIST, 224 (2990), pp. 31-31.

Ranieri N, Tabernero P, Green MD, Verbois L, Herrington J, Sampson E, Satzger RD, Phonlavong C, Thao K, Newton PN, Witkowski MR. 2014. Evaluation of a new handheld instrument for the detection of counterfeit artesunate by visual fluorescence comparison. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 91 (5), pp. 920-924. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is an urgent need for accurate and inexpensive handheld instruments for the evaluation of medicine quality in the field. A blinded evaluation of the diagnostic accuracy of the Counterfeit Detection Device 3 (CD-3), developed by the US Food and Drug Administration Forensic Chemistry Center, was conducted in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Two hundred three samples of the oral antimalarial artesunate were compared with authentic products using the CD-3 by a trainer and two trainees. The specificity (95% confidence interval [95% CI]), sensitivity (95% CI), positive predictive value (95% CI), and negative predictive value (95% CI) of the CD-3 for detecting counterfeit (falsified) artesunate were 100% (93.8-100%), 98.4% (93.8-99.7%), 100% (96.2-100%), and 97.4% (90.2-99.6%), respectively. Interobserver agreement for 203 samples of artesunate was 100%. The CD-3 holds promise as a relatively inexpensive and easy to use instrument for field evaluation of medicines, potentially empowering drug inspectors, customs agents, and pharmacists.

Newton PN, Tabernero P, Dwivedi P, Culzoni MJ, Monge ME, Swamidoss I, Mildenhall D, Green MD et al. 2014. Falsified medicines in Africa: all talk, no action. Lancet Glob Health, 2 (9), pp. e509-e510. | Read more

Takala-Harrison S, Jacob CG, Arze C, Cummings MP, Silva JC, Dondorp AM, Fukuda MM, Hien TT et al. 2015. Independent emergence of artemisinin resistance mutations among Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia. J Infect Dis, 211 (5), pp. 670-679. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Southeast Asia threatens malaria treatment efficacy. Mutations in a kelch protein encoded on P. falciparum chromosome 13 (K13) have been associated with resistance in vitro and in field samples from Cambodia. METHODS: P. falciparum infections from artesunate efficacy trials in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam were genotyped at 33 716 genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Linear mixed models were used to test associations between parasite genotypes and parasite clearance half-lives following artesunate treatment. K13 mutations were tested for association with artemisinin resistance, and extended haplotypes on chromosome 13 were examined to determine whether mutations arose focally and spread or whether they emerged independently. RESULTS: The presence of nonreference K13 alleles was associated with prolonged parasite clearance half-life (P = 1.97 × 10(-12)). Parasites with a mutation in any of the K13 kelch domains displayed longer parasite clearance half-lives than parasites with wild-type alleles. Haplotype analysis revealed both population-specific emergence of mutations and independent emergence of the same mutation in different geographic areas. CONCLUSIONS: K13 appears to be a major determinant of artemisinin resistance throughout Southeast Asia. While we found some evidence of spreading resistance, there was no evidence of resistance moving westward from Cambodia into Myanmar.

Dittrich S, Phommasone K, Anantatat T, Panyanivong P, Slesak G, Blacksell SD, Dubot-Pérès A, Castonguay-Vanier J, Stenos J, Newton PN, Paris DH. 2014. Rickettsia felis Infections and comorbid conditions, Laos, 2003-2011. Emerg Infect Dis, 20 (8), pp. 1402-1404. | Read more

Ashley EA, Dhorda M, Fairhurst RM, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S, Anderson JM et al. 2014. Spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. N Engl J Med, 371 (5), pp. 411-423. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in Southeast Asia and now poses a threat to the control and elimination of malaria. Mapping the geographic extent of resistance is essential for planning containment and elimination strategies. METHODS: Between May 2011 and April 2013, we enrolled 1241 adults and children with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria in an open-label trial at 15 sites in 10 countries (7 in Asia and 3 in Africa). Patients received artesunate, administered orally at a daily dose of either 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or 4 mg per kilogram, for 3 days, followed by a standard 3-day course of artemisinin-based combination therapy. Parasite counts in peripheral-blood samples were measured every 6 hours, and the parasite clearance half-lives were determined. RESULTS: The median parasite clearance half-lives ranged from 1.9 hours in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 7.0 hours at the Thailand-Cambodia border. Slowly clearing infections (parasite clearance half-life >5 hours), strongly associated with single point mutations in the "propeller" region of the P. falciparum kelch protein gene on chromosome 13 (kelch13), were detected throughout mainland Southeast Asia from southern Vietnam to central Myanmar. The incidence of pretreatment and post-treatment gametocytemia was higher among patients with slow parasite clearance, suggesting greater potential for transmission. In western Cambodia, where artemisinin-based combination therapies are failing, the 6-day course of antimalarial therapy was associated with a cure rate of 97.7% (95% confidence interval, 90.9 to 99.4) at 42 days. CONCLUSIONS: Artemisinin resistance to P. falciparum, which is now prevalent across mainland Southeast Asia, is associated with mutations in kelch13. Prolonged courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies are currently efficacious in areas where standard 3-day treatments are failing. (Funded by the U.K. Department of International Development and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01350856.).

Dance DA, Davong V, Soeng S, Phetsouvanh R, Newton PN, Turner P. 2014. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole resistance in Burkholderia pseudomallei. Int J Antimicrob Agents, 44 (4), pp. 368-369. | Read more

Mayxay M, Khanthavong M, Cox L, Sichanthongthip O, Imwong M, Pongvongsa T, Hongvanthong B, Phompida S, Vanisaveth V, White NJ, Newton PN. 2014. Thiamin supplementation does not reduce the frequency of adverse events after anti-malarial therapy among patients with falciparum malaria in southern Laos. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 275. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In a recent study one third of Lao patients presenting with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria had biochemical evidence of thiamin deficiency, which was associated with a higher incidence of adverse events. Thiamin supplementation might, therefore, reduce adverse events in this population. METHODS: An exploratory, double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled, superiority trial of thiamin supplementation in patients of all ages with uncomplicated and severe falciparum malaria was conducted in Xepon District, Savannakhet Province, southern Laos. Patients were randomly assigned to either oral thiamin 10 mg/day for 7 days immediately after standard anti-malarial treatment then 5 mg daily until day 42, or identical oral placebo. RESULTS: After interim analyses when 630 patients (314 in thiamin and 316 in placebo groups) had been recruited, the trial was discontinued on the grounds of futility. On admission biochemical thiamin deficiency (alpha ≥ 25%) was present in 27% of patients and 9% had severe deficiency (alpha > 31%). After 42 days of treatment, the frequency of thiamin deficiency was lower in the thiamin (2%, 1% severe) compared to the placebo (11%, 3% severe) groups (p < 0.001 and p = 0.05), respectively. Except for diarrhoea, 7% in the placebo compared to 3% in the thiamin group (p = 0.04), and dizziness on day 1 (33% vs 25%, p = 0.045), all adverse events were not significantly different between the groups (p > 0.05). Clinical, haematological, and parasitological responses to treatment did not differ significantly between the two groups. CONCLUSION: Thiamin supplementation reduced biochemical thiamin deficiency among Lao malaria patients following anti-malarial drug treatment, but it did not reduce the frequency of adverse events after anti-malarial therapy or have any detected clinical or parasitological impact. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN 85411059.

Caillet C, Syhakhang L, Delpierre C, Manithip C, Mayxay M, Buisson Y, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Newton P, Roussin A. 2014. Healthcare providers and population's knowledge regarding the risks related to medicinal products use: a cross-sectional study conducted in Laos FUNDAMENTAL & CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, 28 pp. 61-61.

Caillet C, Sichanh C, Mayxay M, Syhakhang L, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Roussin A, Newton P. 2014. Visual identification of single units of medicines for pharmacoepidemiological studies in developing countries: a pilot study in Lao PDR FUNDAMENTAL & CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, 28 pp. 102-102.

Tabernero P, Fernández FM, Green M, Guerin PJ, Newton PN. 2014. Mind the gaps--the epidemiology of poor-quality anti-malarials in the malarious world--analysis of the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network database. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 139. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Poor quality medicines threaten the lives of millions of patients and are alarmingly common in many parts of the world. Nevertheless, the global extent of the problem remains unknown. Accurate estimates of the epidemiology of poor quality medicines are sparse and are influenced by sampling methodology and diverse chemical analysis techniques. In order to understand the existing data, the Antimalarial Quality Scientific Group at WWARN built a comprehensive, open-access, global database and linked Antimalarial Quality Surveyor, an online visualization tool. Analysis of the database is described here, the limitations of the studies and data reported, and their public health implications discussed. METHODS: The database collates customized summaries of 251 published anti-malarial quality reports in English, French and Spanish by time and location since 1946. It also includes information on assays to determine quality, sampling and medicine regulation. RESULTS: No publicly available reports for 60.6% (63) of the 104 malaria-endemic countries were found. Out of 9,348 anti-malarials sampled, 30.1% (2,813) failed chemical/packaging quality tests with 39.3% classified as falsified, 2.3% as substandard and 58.3% as poor quality without evidence available to categorize them as either substandard or falsified. Only 32.3% of the reports explicitly described their definitions of medicine quality and just 9.1% (855) of the samples collected in 4.6% (six) surveys were conducted using random sampling techniques. Packaging analysis was only described in 21.5% of publications and up to twenty wrong active ingredients were found in falsified anti-malarials. CONCLUSIONS: There are severe neglected problems with anti-malarial quality but there are important caveats to accurately estimate the prevalence and distribution of poor quality anti-malarials. The lack of reports in many malaria-endemic areas, inadequate sampling techniques and inadequate chemical analytical methods and instrumental procedures emphasizes the need to interpret medicine quality results with caution. The available evidence demonstrates the need for more investment to improve both sampling and analytical methodology and to achieve consensus in defining different types of poor quality medicines.

Elliott I, Mayxay M, Yeuichaixong S, Lee SJ, Newton PN. 2014. The practice and clinical implications of tablet splitting in international health. Trop Med Int Health, 19 (7), pp. 754-760. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Tablet splitting is frequently performed to facilitate correct dosing, but the practice and implications in low-income settings have rarely been discussed. METHODS: We selected eight drugs, with narrow therapeutic indices or critical dosages, frequently divided in the Lao PDR (Laos). These were split, by common techniques used in Laos, by four nurses and four laypersons. The mean percentage deviation from the theoretical expected weight and weight loss of divided tablets/capsules were recorded. RESULTS: Five of eight study drugs failed, on splitting, to meet European Pharmacopoeia recommendations for tablet weight deviation from the expected weight of tablet/capsule halves with 10% deviating by more than 25%. There was a significant difference in splitting accuracy between nurses and laypersons (P = 0.027). Coated and unscored tablets were less accurately split than uncoated (P = 0.03 and 0.0019 for each half) and scored (0.0001 for both halves) tablets. CONCLUSION: These findings have potential clinical implications on treatment outcome and the development of antimicrobial resistance. Investment by drug companies in a wider range of dosage units, particularly for narrow therapeutic index and critical dosage medicines, is strongly recommended.

Dittrich S, Castonguay-Vanier J, Moore CE, Thongyoo N, Newton PN, Paris DH. 2014. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification for Rickettsia typhi (the causal agent of murine typhus): Problems with diagnosis at the limit of detection Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 52 (3), pp. 832-838. | Show Abstract | Read more

Murine typhus is a flea-borne disease of worldwide distribution caused by Rickettsia typhi. Although treatment with tetracycline antibiotics is effective, treatment is often misguided or delayed due to diagnostic difficulties. As the gold standard immunofluorescence assay is imperfect, we aimed to develop and evaluate a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay. LAMP assays have the potential to fulfill the WHO ASSURED criteria (affordable, sensitive, specific, user friendly, robust and rapid, equipment free, deliverable to those who need them) for diagnostic methodologies, as they can detect pathogen-derived nucleic acid with low technical expenditure. The LAMP assay was developed using samples of bacterial isolates (n=41), buffy coat specimens from R. typhi PCR-positive Lao patients (n=42), and diverse negative controls (n=47). The method was then evaluated prospectively using consecutive patients with suspected scrub typhus or murine typhus (n=266). The limit of detection was ∼40 DNA copies/LAMP reaction, with an analytical sensitivity of<10 DNA copies/reaction based on isolate dilutions. Despite these low cutoffs, the clinical sensitivity was disappointing, with 48% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 32.5 to 62.7%) (specificity, 100% [95% CI, 100 to 100%]) in the developmental phase and 33% (95% CI, 9.2 to 56.8%) (specificity, 98.5% [95% CI, 97.0% to 100%]) in the prospective study. This low diagnostic accuracy was attributed to low patient R. typhi bacterial loads (median, 210 DNA copies/ml blood; interquartile range, 130 to 500). PCR-positive but LAMP-negative samples demonstrated significantly lower bacterial loads than LAMP-positive samples. Our findings highlight the diagnostic challenges for diseases with low pathogen burdens and emphasize the need to integrate pathogen biology with improved template production for assay development strategies. Copyright © 2014 Dittrich et al.

Moyes CL, Henry AJ, Golding N, Huang Z, Singh B, Baird JK, Newton PN, Huffman M et al. 2014. Defining the geographical range of the Plasmodium knowlesi reservoir. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (3), pp. e2780. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The simian malaria parasite, Plasmodium knowlesi, can cause severe and fatal disease in humans yet it is rarely included in routine public health reporting systems for malaria and its geographical range is largely unknown. Because malaria caused by P. knowlesi is a truly neglected tropical disease, there are substantial obstacles to defining the geographical extent and risk of this disease. Information is required on the occurrence of human cases in different locations, on which non-human primates host this parasite and on which vectors are able to transmit it to humans. We undertook a systematic review and ranked the existing evidence, at a subnational spatial scale, to investigate the potential geographical range of the parasite reservoir capable of infecting humans. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: After reviewing the published literature we identified potential host and vector species and ranked these based on how informative they are for the presence of an infectious parasite reservoir, based on current evidence. We collated spatial data on parasite occurrence and the ranges of the identified host and vector species. The ranked spatial data allowed us to assign an evidence score to 475 subnational areas in 19 countries and we present the results on a map of the Southeast and South Asia region. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: We have ranked subnational areas within the potential disease range according to evidence for presence of a disease risk to humans, providing geographical evidence to support decisions on prevention, management and prophylaxis. This work also highlights the unknown risk status of large parts of the region. Within this unknown category, our map identifies which areas have most evidence for the potential to support an infectious reservoir and are therefore a priority for further investigation. Furthermore we identify geographical areas where further investigation of putative host and vector species would be highly informative for the region-wide assessment.

Kyaw SS, Drake T, Ruangveerayuth R, Chierakul W, White NJ, Newton PN, Lubell Y. 2014. Cost of treating inpatient falciparum malaria on the Thai-Myanmar border. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 416. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Despite demonstrated benefits and World Health Organization (WHO) endorsement, parenteral artesunate is the recommended treatment for patients with severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria in only one fifth of endemic countries. One possible reason for this slow uptake is that a treatment course of parenteral artesunate is costlier than quinine and might, therefore, pose a substantial economic burden to health care systems. This analysis presents a detailed account of the resources used in treating falciparum malaria by either parenteral artesunate or quinine in a hospital on the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: The analysis used data from four studies, with random allocation of inpatients with falciparum malaria to treatment with parenteral artesunate or quinine, conducted in Mae Sot Hospital, Thailand from 1995 to 2001. Detailed resource use data were collected during admission and unit costs from the 2008 hospital price list were applied to these. Total admission costs were broken down into five categories: 1) medication; 2) intravenous fluids; 3) disposables; 4) laboratory tests; and 5) services. RESULTS: While the medication costs were higher for patients treated with artesunate, total admission costs were similar in those treated with quinine, US$ 243 (95% CI: 167.5-349.7) and in those treated with artesunate US$ 190 (95% CI: 131.0-263.2) (P=0.375). For cases classified as severe malaria (59%), the total cost of admission was US$ 298 (95% CI: 203.6-438.7) in the quinine group as compared with US$ 284 (95% CI: 181.3-407) in the artesunate group (P=0.869). CONCLUSION: This analysis finds no evidence for a difference in total admission costs for malaria inpatients treated with artesunate as compared with quinine. Assuming this is generalizable to other settings, the higher cost of a course of artesunate should not be considered a barrier for its implementation in the treatment of malaria.

Tarantola A, Goutard F, Newton P, de Lamballerie X, Lortholary O, Cappelle J, Buchy P. 2014. Estimating the burden of Japanese encephalitis virus and other encephalitides in countries of the mekong region. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 8 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Diverse aetiologies of viral and bacterial encephalitis are widely recognized as significant yet neglected public health issues in the Mekong region. A robust analysis of the corresponding health burden is lacking. We retrieved 75 articles on encephalitis in the region published in English or in French from 1965 through 2011. Review of available data demonstrated that they are sparse and often derived from hospital-based studies with significant recruitment bias. Almost half (35 of 75) of articles were on Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) alone or associated with dengue. In the Western Pacific region the WHO reported 30,000-50,000 annual JEV cases (15,000 deaths) between 1966 and 1996 and 4,633 cases (200 deaths) in 2008, a decline likely related to the introduction of JEV vaccination in China, Vietnam, or Thailand since the 1980s. Data on dengue, scrub typhus and rabies encephalitis, among other aetiologies, are also reviewed and discussed. Countries of the Mekong region are undergoing profound demographic, economic and ecological change. As the epidemiological aspects of Japanese encephalitis (JE) are transformed by vaccination in some countries, highly integrated expert collaborative research and objective data are needed to identify and prioritize the human health, animal health and economic burden due to JE and other pathogens associated with encephalitides.

Elliott I, Mayxay M, Yeuichaixong S, Lee SJ, Newton PN. 2014. The practice and clinical implications of tablet splitting in international health. Tropical medicine &amp; international health : TM &amp; IH, 19 (7), pp. 754-760. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tablet splitting is frequently performed to facilitate correct dosing, but the practice and implications in low-income settings have rarely been discussed. We selected eight drugs, with narrow therapeutic indices or critical dosages, frequently divided in the Lao PDR (Laos). These were split, by common techniques used in Laos, by four nurses and four laypersons. The mean percentage deviation from the theoretical expected weight and weight loss of divided tablets/capsules were recorded. Five of eight study drugs failed, on splitting, to meet European Pharmacopoeia recommendations for tablet weight deviation from the expected weight of tablet/capsule halves with 10% deviating by more than 25%. There was a significant difference in splitting accuracy between nurses and laypersons (P = 0.027). Coated and unscored tablets were less accurately split than uncoated (P = 0.03 and 0.0019 for each half) and scored (0.0001 for both halves) tablets. These findings have potential clinical implications on treatment outcome and the development of antimicrobial resistance. Investment by drug companies in a wider range of dosage units, particularly for narrow therapeutic index and critical dosage medicines, is strongly recommended. © 2014 The Authors. Tropical Medicine & International Health published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Monge ME, Dwivedi P, Zhou M, Payne M, Harris C, House B, Juggins Y, Cizmarik P, Newton PN, Fernández FM, Jenkins D. 2014. A tiered analytical approach for investigating poor quality emergency contraceptives. PLoS One, 9 (4), pp. e95353. | Show Abstract | Read more

Reproductive health has been deleteriously affected by poor quality medicines. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are an important birth control method that women can use after unprotected coitus for reducing the risk of pregnancy. In response to the detection of poor quality ECPs commercially available in the Peruvian market we developed a tiered multi-platform analytical strategy. In a survey to assess ECP medicine quality in Peru, 7 out of 25 different batches showed inadequate release of levonorgestrel by dissolution testing or improper amounts of active ingredient. One batch was found to contain a wrong active ingredient, with no detectable levonorgestrel. By combining ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (UHPLC-IMS-MS) and direct analysis in real time MS (DART-MS) the unknown compound was identified as the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole. Quantitation by UHPLC-triple quadrupole tandem MS (QqQ-MS/MS) indicated that the wrong ingredient was present in the ECP sample at levels which could have significant physiological effects. Further chemical characterization of the poor quality ECP samples included the identification of the excipients by 2D Diffusion-Ordered Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (DOSY 1H NMR) indicating the presence of lactose and magnesium stearate.

Dubot-Pérès A, Tan CY, de Chesse R, Sibounheuang B, Vongsouvath M, Phommasone K, Bessaud M, Gazin C et al. 2014. SYBR green real-time PCR for the detection of all enterovirus-A71 genogroups. PLoS One, 9 (3), pp. e89963. | Show Abstract | Read more

Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) has recently become an important public health threat, especially in South-East Asia, where it has caused massive outbreaks of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease every year, resulting in significant mortality. Rapid detection of EV-A71 early in outbreaks would facilitate implementation of prevention and control measures to limit spread. Real-time RT-PCR is the technique of choice for the rapid diagnosis of EV-A71 infection and several systems have been developed to detect circulating strains. Although eight genogroups have been described globally, none of these PCR techniques detect all eight. We describe, for the first time, a SYBR Green real-time RT-PCR system validated to detect all 8 EV-A71 genogroups. This tool could permit the early detection and shift in genogroup circulation and the standardization of HFMD virological diagnosis, facilitating networking of laboratories working on EV-A71 in different regions.

Tanomsing N, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Nosten F, Dolecek C, Hien TT, White NJ, Day NP, Dondorp AM, Imwong M. 2014. Genetic variability of Plasmodium malariae dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) in four Asian countries. PLoS One, 9 (4), pp. e93942. | Show Abstract | Read more

The dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) genes of 44 P. malariae strains from four Asian countries were isolated. Only a limited number of polymorphisms were observed. Comparison with homologous mutations in other Plasmodium species showed that these polymorphisms are unlikely to be associated with sulfadoxine resistance.

Tarantola A, Goutard F, Newton P, de Lamballerie X, Lortholary O, Cappelle J, Buchy P. 2014. Estimating the burden of Japanese encephalitis virus and other encephalitides in countries of the mekong region. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (1), pp. e2533. | Show Abstract | Read more

Diverse aetiologies of viral and bacterial encephalitis are widely recognized as significant yet neglected public health issues in the Mekong region. A robust analysis of the corresponding health burden is lacking. We retrieved 75 articles on encephalitis in the region published in English or in French from 1965 through 2011. Review of available data demonstrated that they are sparse and often derived from hospital-based studies with significant recruitment bias. Almost half (35 of 75) of articles were on Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) alone or associated with dengue. In the Western Pacific region the WHO reported 30,000-50,000 annual JEV cases (15,000 deaths) between 1966 and 1996 and 4,633 cases (200 deaths) in 2008, a decline likely related to the introduction of JEV vaccination in China, Vietnam, or Thailand since the 1980s. Data on dengue, scrub typhus and rabies encephalitis, among other aetiologies, are also reviewed and discussed. Countries of the Mekong region are undergoing profound demographic, economic and ecological change. As the epidemiological aspects of Japanese encephalitis (JE) are transformed by vaccination in some countries, highly integrated expert collaborative research and objective data are needed to identify and prioritize the human health, animal health and economic burden due to JE and other pathogens associated with encephalitides.

Culzoni MJ, Dwivedi P, Green MD, Newton PN, Fernandez FM. 2014. Ambient mass spectrometry technologies for the detection of falsified drugs MEDCHEMCOMM, 5 (1), pp. 9-19. | Show Abstract | Read more

Increased globalization of the pharmaceutical market has facilitated the unobstructed and fast spread of poor-quality medicines. Poor-quality medicines include spurious/falsely-labeled/falsified/counterfeit drugs (those that are deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to content and/or origin), substandard drugs (legitimate drugs that do not meet their quality specifications), and degraded medicines (good quality pharmaceuticals that suffered from deterioration caused by improper storage or distribution). Consumption of poor-quality pharmaceuticals is likely to increase morbidity and mortality. Moreover, poor-quality drugs can also contribute to the development of resistance to anti-infective medicines and decrease the quality of health care received by patients. To assess the true prevalence of poor quality drugs, tiered technology approaches enabling the testing of drug samples collected at points of sale are required, thus ensuring public health standards. High throughput and high resolution ambient mass spectrometry techniques allow investigation of pharmaceuticals with minimal or no sample preparation, thus possessing capabilities to survey a large number of drug samples for their authenticity. © 2014 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Dittrich S, Castonguay-Vanier J, Moore CE, Thongyoo N, Newton PN, Paris DH. 2014. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification for Rickettsia typhi (the causal agent of murine typhus): problems with diagnosis at the limit of detection. J Clin Microbiol, 52 (3), pp. 832-838. | Show Abstract | Read more

Murine typhus is a flea-borne disease of worldwide distribution caused by Rickettsia typhi. Although treatment with tetracycline antibiotics is effective, treatment is often misguided or delayed due to diagnostic difficulties. As the gold standard immunofluorescence assay is imperfect, we aimed to develop and evaluate a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay. LAMP assays have the potential to fulfill the WHO ASSURED criteria (affordable, sensitive, specific, user friendly, robust and rapid, equipment free, deliverable to those who need them) for diagnostic methodologies, as they can detect pathogen-derived nucleic acid with low technical expenditure. The LAMP assay was developed using samples of bacterial isolates (n=41), buffy coat specimens from R. typhi PCR-positive Lao patients (n=42), and diverse negative controls (n=47). The method was then evaluated prospectively using consecutive patients with suspected scrub typhus or murine typhus (n=266). The limit of detection was ∼40 DNA copies/LAMP reaction, with an analytical sensitivity of <10 DNA copies/reaction based on isolate dilutions. Despite these low cutoffs, the clinical sensitivity was disappointing, with 48% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 32.5 to 62.7%) (specificity, 100% [95% CI, 100 to 100%]) in the developmental phase and 33% (95% CI, 9.2 to 56.8%) (specificity, 98.5% [95% CI, 97.0% to 100%]) in the prospective study. This low diagnostic accuracy was attributed to low patient R. typhi bacterial loads (median, 210 DNA copies/ml blood; interquartile range, 130 to 500). PCR-positive but LAMP-negative samples demonstrated significantly lower bacterial loads than LAMP-positive samples. Our findings highlight the diagnostic challenges for diseases with low pathogen burdens and emphasize the need to integrate pathogen biology with improved template production for assay development strategies.

Smit PW, Elliott I, Peeling RW, Mabey D, Newton PN. 2014. An overview of the clinical use of filter paper in the diagnosis of tropical diseases. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 90 (2), pp. 195-210. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tropical infectious diseases diagnosis and surveillance are often hampered by difficulties of sample collection and transportation. Filter paper potentially provides a useful medium to help overcome such problems. We reviewed the literature on the use of filter paper, focusing on the evaluation of nucleic acid and serological assays for diagnosis of infectious diseases using dried blood spots (DBS) compared with recognized gold standards. We reviewed 296 eligible studies and included 101 studies evaluating DBS and 192 studies on other aspects of filter paper use. We also discuss the use of filter paper with other body fluids and for tropical veterinary medicine. In general, DBS perform with sensitivities and specificities similar or only slightly inferior to gold standard sample types. However, important problems were revealed with the uncritical use of DBS, inappropriate statistical analysis, and lack of standardized methodology. DBS have great potential to empower healthcare workers by making laboratory-based diagnostic tests more readily accessible, but additional and more rigorous research is needed.

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Achan J, Adam I, Arinaitwe E, Ashley EA, Awab GR, Ba MS, Barnes KI, Bassat Q et al. 2013. The Effect of Dosing Regimens on the Antimalarial Efficacy of Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine: A Pooled Analysis of Individual Patient Data PLOS MEDICINE, 10 (12), pp. e1001564-e1001564. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background:Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is increasingly recommended for antimalarial treatment in many endemic countries; however, concerns have been raised over its potential under dosing in young children. We investigated the influence of different dosing schedules on DP's clinical efficacy.Methods and Findings:A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify all studies published between 1960 and February 2013, in which patients were enrolled and treated with DP. Principal investigators were approached and invited to share individual patient data with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN). Data were pooled using a standardised methodology. Univariable and multivariable risk factors for parasite recrudescence were identified using a Cox's regression model with shared frailty across the study sites. Twenty-four published and two unpublished studies (n = 7,072 patients) were included in the analysis. After correcting for reinfection by parasite genotyping, Kaplan-Meier survival estimates were 97.7% (95% CI 97.3%-98.1%) at day 42 and 97.2% (95% CI 96.7%-97.7%) at day 63. Overall 28.6% (979/3,429) of children aged 1 to 5 years received a total dose of piperaquine below 48 mg/kg (the lower limit recommended by WHO); this risk was 2.3-2.9-fold greater compared to that in the other age groups and was associated with reduced efficacy at day 63 (94.4% [95% CI 92.6%-96.2%], p<0.001). After adjusting for confounding factors, the mg/kg dose of piperaquine was found to be a significant predictor for recrudescence, the risk increasing by 13% (95% CI 5.0%-21%) for every 5 mg/kg decrease in dose; p = 0.002. In a multivariable model increasing the target minimum total dose of piperaquine in children aged 1 to 5 years old from 48 mg/kg to 59 mg/kg would halve the risk of treatment failure and cure at least 95% of patients; such an increment was not associated with gastrointestinal toxicity in the ten studies in which this could be assessed.Conclusions:DP demonstrates excellent efficacy in a wide range of transmission settings; however, treatment failure is associated with a lower dose of piperaquine, particularly in young children, suggesting potential for further dose optimisation.Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary. © 2013 Price et al.

Flegg JA, Guérin PJ, Nosten F, Ashley EA, Phyo AP, Dondorp AM, Fairhurst RM, Socheat D et al. 2013. Optimal sampling designs for estimation of Plasmodium falciparum clearance rates in patients treated with artemisinin derivatives. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 411. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins in Southeast Asia threatens the control of malaria worldwide. The pharmacodynamic hallmark of artemisinin derivatives is rapid parasite clearance (a short parasite half-life), therefore, the in vivo phenotype of slow clearance defines the reduced susceptibility to the drug. Measurement of parasite counts every six hours during the first three days after treatment have been recommended to measure the parasite clearance half-life, but it remains unclear whether simpler sampling intervals and frequencies might also be sufficient to reliably estimate this parameter. METHODS: A total of 2,746 parasite density-time profiles were selected from 13 clinical trials in Thailand, Cambodia, Mali, Vietnam, and Kenya. In these studies, parasite densities were measured every six hours until negative after treatment with an artemisinin derivative (alone or in combination with a partner drug). The WWARN Parasite Clearance Estimator (PCE) tool was used to estimate "reference" half-lives from these six-hourly measurements. The effect of four alternative sampling schedules on half-life estimation was investigated, and compared to the reference half-life (time zero, 6, 12, 24 (A1); zero, 6, 18, 24 (A2); zero, 12, 18, 24 (A3) or zero, 12, 24 (A4) hours and then every 12 hours). Statistical bootstrap methods were used to estimate the sampling distribution of half-lives for parasite populations with different geometric mean half-lives. A simulation study was performed to investigate a suite of 16 potential alternative schedules and half-life estimates generated by each of the schedules were compared to the "true" half-life. The candidate schedules in the simulation study included (among others) six-hourly sampling, schedule A1, schedule A4, and a convenience sampling schedule at six, seven, 24, 25, 48 and 49 hours. RESULTS: The median (range) parasite half-life for all clinical studies combined was 3.1 (0.7-12.9) hours. Schedule A1 consistently performed the best, and schedule A4 the worst, both for the individual patient estimates and for the populations generated with the bootstrapping algorithm. In both cases, the differences between the reference and alternative schedules decreased as half-life increased. In the simulation study, 24-hourly sampling performed the worst, and six-hourly sampling the best. The simulation study confirmed that more dense parasite sampling schedules are required to accurately estimate half-life for profiles with short half-life (≤ three hours) and/or low initial parasite density (≤ 10,000 per μL). Among schedules in the simulation study with six or fewer measurements in the first 48 hours, a schedule with measurements at times (time windows) of 0 (0-2), 6 (4-8), 12 (10-14), 24 (22-26), 36 (34-36) and 48 (46-50) hours, or at times 6, 7 (two samples in time window 5-8), 24, 25 (two samples during time 23-26), and 48, 49 (two samples during time 47-50) hours, until negative most accurately estimated the "true" half-life. For a given schedule, continuing sampling after two days had little effect on the estimation of half-life, provided that adequate sampling was performed in the first two days and the half-life was less than three hours. If the measured parasitaemia at two days exceeded 1,000 per μL, continued sampling for at least once a day was needed for accurate half-life estimates. CONCLUSIONS: This study has revealed important insights on sampling schedules for accurate and reliable estimation of Plasmodium falciparum half-life following treatment with an artemisinin derivative (alone or in combination with a partner drug). Accurate measurement of short half-lives (rapid clearance) requires more dense sampling schedules (with more than twice daily sampling). A more intensive sampling schedule is, therefore, recommended in locations where P. falciparum susceptibility to artemisinins is not known and the necessary resources are available. Counting parasite density at six hours is important, and less frequent sampling is satisfactory for estimating long parasite half-lives in areas where artemisinin resistance is present.

Elliott I, Dittrich S, Paris D, Sengduanphachanh A, Phoumin P, Newton PN. 2013. The use of dried cerebrospinal fluid filter paper spots as a substrate for PCR diagnosis of the aetiology of bacterial meningitis in the Lao PDR Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 19 (10), | Show Abstract | Read more

We investigated whether dried cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) conserved on filter paper can be used as a substrate for accurate PCR diagnosis of important causes of bacterial meningitis in the Lao PDR. Using mock CSF, we investigated and optimized filter paper varieties, paper punch sizes, elution volumes and quantities of DNA template to achieve sensitive and reliable detection of bacterial DNA from filter paper specimens. FTA Elute Micro Card™ (Whatman, Maidstone, UK) was the most sensitive, consistent and practical variety of filter paper. Following optimization, the lower limit of detection for Streptococcus pneumoniae from dried mock CSF spots was 14 genomic equivalents (GE)/μL (interquartile range 5.5 GE/μL) or 230 (IQR 65) colony forming units/mL. A prospective clinical evaluation for S. pneumoniae, S. suis and Neisseria meningitidis was performed. Culture and PCR performed on fresh liquid CSF from patients admitted with a clinical diagnosis of meningitis (n = 73) were compared with results derived from dried CSF spots. Four of five fresh PCR-positive CSF samples also tested PCR positive from dried CSF spots, with one patient under the limit of detection. In a retrospective study of S. pneumoniae samples (n = 20), the median (IQR; range) CSF S. pneumoniae bacterial load was 1.1 × 104 GE/μL (1.2 × 105; 1 to 6.1 × 106 DNA GE/μL). Utilizing the optimized methodology, we estimate an extrapolated sensitivity of 90%, based on the range of CSF genome counts found in Laos. Dried CSF filter paper spots could potentially help us to better understand the epidemiology of bacterial meningitis in resource-poor settings and guide empirical treatments and vaccination policies. © 2013 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease.

Mayxay M, Castonguay-Vanier J, Chansamouth V, Dubot-Pérès A, Paris DH, Phetsouvanh R, Tangkhabuanbutra J, Douangdala P et al. 2013. Causes of non-malarial fever in Laos: a prospective study. Lancet Glob Health, 1 (1), pp. e46-e54. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Because of reductions in the incidence of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Laos, identification of the causes of fever in people without malaria, and discussion of the best empirical treatment options, are urgently needed. We aimed to identify the causes of non-malarial acute fever in patients in rural Laos. METHODS: For this prospective study, we recruited 1938 febrile patients, between May, 2008, and December, 2010, at Luang Namtha provincial hospital in northwest Laos (n=1390), and between September, 2008, and December, 2010, at Salavan provincial hospital in southern Laos (n=548). Eligible participants were aged 5-49 years with fever (≥38°C) lasting 8 days or less and were eligible for malaria testing by national guidelines. FINDINGS: With conservative definitions of cause, we assigned 799 (41%) patients a diagnosis. With exclusion of influenza, the top five diagnoses when only one aetiological agent per patient was identified were dengue (156 [8%] of 1927 patients), scrub typhus (122 [7%] of 1871), Japanese encephalitis virus (112 [6%] of 1924), leptospirosis (109 [6%] of 1934), and bacteraemia (43 [2%] of 1938). 115 (32%) of 358 patients at Luang Namtha hospital tested influenza PCR-positive between June and December, 2010, of which influenza B was the most frequently detected strain (n=121 [87%]). Disease frequency differed significantly between the two sites: Japanese encephalitis virus infection (p=0·04), typhoid (p=0·006), and leptospirosis (p=0·001) were more common at Luang Namtha, whereas dengue and malaria were more common at Salavan (all p<0·0001). With use of evidence from southeast Asia when possible, we estimated that azithromycin, doxycycline, ceftriaxone, and ofloxacin would have had significant efficacy for 258 (13%), 240 (12%), 154 (8%), and 41 (2%) of patients, respectively. INTERPRETATION: Our findings suggest that a wide range of treatable or preventable pathogens are implicated in non-malarial febrile illness in Laos. Empirical treatment with doxycycline for patients with undifferentiated fever and negative rapid diagnostic tests for malaria and dengue could be an appropriate strategy for rural health workers in Laos. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, WHO-Western Pacific Region, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Plancon A, Newton P. 2013. Building bridges between law enforcement and public health communities to combat pharmaceutical crime TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 18 pp. 20-20.

Newton P. 2013. Causes of fever - hoof beats are rarely from zebras TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 18 pp. 7-7.

Phommasone K, Paris DH, Anantatat T, Castonguay-Vanier J, Keomany S, Souvannasing P, Blacksell SD, Mayxay M, Newton PN. 2013. Concurrent Infection with murine typhus and scrub typhus in southern Laos--the mixed and the unmixed. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 7 (8), pp. e2163. | Read more

Dubot-Pérès A, Vongphrachanh P, Denny J, Phetsouvanh R, Linthavong S, Sengkeopraseuth B, Khasing A, Xaythideth V et al. 2013. An epidemic of dengue-1 in a remote village in rural Laos. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 7 (8), pp. e2360. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the Lao PDR (Laos), urban dengue is an increasingly recognised public health problem. We describe a dengue-1 virus outbreak in a rural northwestern Lao forest village during the cool season of 2008. The isolated strain was genotypically "endemic" and not "sylvatic," belonging to the genotype 1, Asia 3 clade. Phylogenetic analyses of 37 other dengue-1 sequences from diverse areas of Laos between 2007 and 2010 showed that the geographic distribution of some strains remained focal overtime while others were dispersed throughout the country. Evidence that dengue viruses have broad circulation in the region, crossing country borders, was also obtained. Whether the outbreak arose from dengue importation from an urban centre into a dengue-naïve community or crossed into the village from a forest cycle is unknown. More epidemiological and entomological investigations are required to understand dengue epidemiology and the importance of rural and forest dengue dynamics in Laos.

Anderson M, Luangxay K, Sisouk K, Vorlasan L, Soumphonphakdy B, Sengmouang V, Chansamouth V, Phommasone K et al. 2014. Epidemiology of bacteremia in young hospitalized infants in Vientiane, Laos, 2000-2011. J Trop Pediatr, 60 (1), pp. 10-16. | Show Abstract | Read more

As data about the causes of neonatal sepsis in low-income countries are inadequate, we reviewed the etiology and antibiotic susceptibilities of bacteremia in young infants in Laos. As Staphylococcus aureus is the leading cause of bacteremia in Lao infants, we also examined risk factors for this infection, in particular the local practice of warming mothers during the first weeks postpartum with hot coals under their beds (hot beds). Clinical and laboratory data regarding infants aged 0-60 days evaluated for sepsis within 72 h of admission to Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, Laos, were reviewed, and 85 of 1438 (5.9%) infants' blood cultures grew a clinically significant organism. Most common were S. aureus, Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Whereas no methicillin-resistant S. aureus was found, only 18% of E. coli isolates were susceptible to ampicillin. A history of sleeping on a hot bed with mother was associated with S. aureus bacteremia (odds ratio 4.8; 95% confidence interval 1.2-19.0).

Newton PN, Stepniewska K, Dondorp A, Silamut K, Chierakul W, Krishna S, Davis TM, Suputtamongkol Y et al. 2013. Prognostic indicators in adults hospitalized with falciparum malaria in Western Thailand. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 229. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Severe malaria remains a major cause of death and morbidity amongst adults in the Asiatic tropics. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of the clinical and laboratory data of 988 adult patients, hospitalized with Plasmodium falciparum malaria and prospectively recruited to malaria studies in western Thailand between 1986 and 2002, was performed to assess the factors associated with a fatal outcome. Different severity scores and classifications for defining severe malaria were compared and, using multiple logistic regression, simple models for predicting mortality developed. RESULTS: The proportion of patients fulfilling the WHO 2000 definition of severe malaria was 78.1%, and their mortality was 10%. Mortality in patients given parenteral artesunate or artemether (16/317, 5%) was lower than in those given parenteral quinine (59/442, 13%) (P < 0.001). Models using parameter sets based on WHO 1990, 2000 and Adapted AQ criteria plus blood smear parasite-stage assessment gave the best mortality prediction. A malaria prognostic index (MPI), derived from the dataset using five clinical or laboratory variables gave similar prognostic accuracy. CONCLUSIONS: The mortality of severe malaria in adults has fallen and the switch from quinine to artesunate has probably been an important contributor. Prognostic indices based on WHO 2000 definitions, and other simpler indices based on fewer variables, provide clinically useful predictions of outcome in Asian adults with severe malaria.

Jiang J, Paris DH, Blacksell SD, Aukkanit N, Newton PN, Phetsouvanh R, Izzard L, Stenos J, Graves SR, Day NP, Richards AL. 2013. Diversity of the 47-kD HtrA nucleic acid and translated amino acid sequences from 17 recent human isolates of Orientia. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 13 (6), pp. 367-375. | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi, the etiologic agent of potentially fatal scrub typhus, is characterized by a high antigenic diversity, which complicates the development of a broadly protective vaccine. Efficacy studies in murine and nonhuman primate models demonstrated the DNA vaccine candidate pKarp47, based upon the O. tsutsugamushi Karp 47-kD HtrA protein gene, to be a successful immunoprophylactic against scrub typhus. To characterize 47-kD HtrA protein diversity among human isolates of Orientia, we sequenced the full open reading frame (ORF) of the 47-kD HtrA gene and analyzed the translated amino acid sequences of 17 patient isolates from Thailand (n=13), Laos (n=2), Australia (n=1), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (n=1) and 9 reference strains: Karp (New Guinea), Kato (Japan), Ikeda (Japan), Gilliam (Burma), Boryong (Korea), TA763, TH1811 and TH1817 (Thailand), and MAK243 (China). The percentage identity (similarity) of translated amino acid sequences between 16 new isolates and 9 reference strains of O. tsutsugamushi ranged from 96.4% to 100% (97.4% to 100%). However, inclusion of the recently identified Orientia chuto sp. nov. reduced identity (similarity) values to 82.2% to 83.3% (90.4% to 91.4%). These results demonstrate the diversity of Orientia 47-kD HtrA among isolates encountered by humans and therefore provide support for the necessity of developing a broadly protective scrub typhus vaccine that takes this diversity into account.

Phetsouvanh R, Thojaikong T, Phoumin P, Sibounheuang B, Phommasone K, Chansamouth V, Lee SJ, Newton PN, Blacksell SD. 2013. Inter- and intra-operator variability in the reading of indirect immunofluorescence assays for the serological diagnosis of scrub typhus and murine typhus. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 88 (5), pp. 932-936. | Show Abstract | Read more

Inter- and intra-observer variation was examined among six microscopists who read 50 scrub typhus (ST) and murine typhus (MT) indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) immunoglobulin M (IgM) slides. Inter-observer agreement was moderate (κ = 0.45) for MT and fair (κ = 0.32) for ST, and was significantly correlated with experience (P = 0.03 and P = 0.004, respectively); κ-scores for intra-observer agreement between morning and afternoon readings (range = 0.35-0.86) were not correlated between years of experience for ST and MT IFAs (Spearman's ρ = 0.31, P = 0.54 and P = 0.14, respectively; P = 0.78). Storage at 4°C for 2 days showed a change from positive to negative in 20-32% of slides. Although the titers did not dramatically change after 14 days of storage, the final interpretation (positive to negative) did change in 36-50% of samples, and it, therefore, recommended that slides should be read as soon as possible after processing.

Green MD, Mayxay M, Beach R, Pongvongsa T, Phompida S, Hongvanthong B, Vanisaveth V, Newton PN, Vizcaino L, Swamidoss I. 2013. Evaluation of a rapid colorimetric field test to assess the effective life of long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets in the Lao PDR. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 57. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria morbidity and mortality have been significantly reduced through the proper use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, but the extra protection afforded by the insecticide diminishes over time. The insecticide depletion rates vary according to location where wash frequency and wear are influenced by cultural habits as well as the availability of water. Monitoring of available insecticides on the net surface is essential for determining the effective life of the net. Therefore, a rapid and inexpensive colorimetric field test for cyanopyrethroids (Cyanopyrethroid Field Test or CFT) was used to measure surface levels of deltamethrin on insecticide-coated polyester nets (PowerNets™) in rural Lao PDR over a two-year period. METHODS: Net surface levels of deltamethrin were measured by wiping the net with filter paper and measuring the adsorbed deltamethrin using the CFT. A relationship between surface levels of deltamethrin and whole net levels was established by comparing results of the CFT with whole levels assayed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). An effective deltamethrin surface concentration (EC80) was determined by comparing mosquito mortality (WHO Cone Test) with CFT and HPLC results. Five positions (roof to bottom) on each of 23 matched nets were assayed for deltamethrin surface levels at 6, 12, and 24 months. Mosquito mortality assays (WHO Cone Tests) were performed on a subset of eleven 24-month old nets and compared with the proportion of failed nets as predicted by the CFT. RESULTS: At six months, the nets retained about 80% of the baseline (new net) levels of deltamethrin with no significant differences between net positions. At 12 months, ~15-40%, and at 24 months <10% of deltamethrin was retained on the nets, with significant differences appearing between positions. Results from the CFT show that 93% of the nets failed (deltamethrin surface levels </= EC80) at 24 months. This value is in agreement with 91% failure as determined by the WHO Cone Test on a subset of 11 nets. The CFT results show that 50% of the nets from Laos failed at 12 months of normal use. CONCLUSION: The CFT is a useful and accurate indicator of net efficacy and may be substituted for mosquito bioassays.

Wang H, Yuan Z, Barnes E, Yuan M, Li C, Fu Y, Xia X, Li G et al. 2013. Eight novel hepatitis c virus genomes reveal the changing taxonomic structure of genotype 6 Journal of General Virology, 94 (PART11), pp. 76-80. | Show Abstract | Read more

Analysis of partial hepatitis C virus sequences has revealed many novel genotype 6 variants that cannot be unambiguously classified, which obscure the distinctiveness of pre-existing subtypes. To explore this uncertainty, we obtained genomes of 98.0-98.8% full-length for eight such variants (KM35, QC273, TV257, TV476, TV533, L349, QC271 and DH027) and characterized them using phylogenetic analyses and per cent nucleotide similarities. The former four are closely related phylogenetically to subtype 6k, TV533 and L349 to subtype 6l, QC271 to subtypes 6i and 6j, and DH027 to subtypes 6m and 6n. The former six defined a high-level grouping that comprised subtypes 6k and 6l, plus related strains. The threshold between intra- and intersubtype diversity in this group was indistinct. We propose that similar results would be seen elsewhere if more intermediate variants like QC271 and DH027 were sampled. © 2013 SGM.

Newton PN, Day NPJ. 2012. Scrub Typhus pp. 542-545. | Read more

Castonguay-Vanier J, Davong V, Bouthasavong L, Sengdetka D, Simmalavong M, Seupsavith A, Dance DA, Baker S, Le Thi Phuong T, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN. 2013. Evaluation of a simple blood culture amplification and antigen detection method for diagnosis of Salmonella enterica serovar typhi bacteremia. J Clin Microbiol, 51 (1), pp. 142-148. | Show Abstract | Read more

In most areas where typhoid is endemic, laboratory diagnosis is not possible due to the lack of appropriate facilities. We investigated whether the combination of blood culture amplification of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi with an S. Typhi antigen rapid diagnostic test (RDT) could be an accurate and inexpensive tool for the accelerated diagnosis of patients with acute typhoid in Laos. For a panel of 23 Gram-negative reference pathogens, the Standard Diagnostics (catalog no. 15FK20; Kyonggi-do, South Korea) RDT gave positive results for S. Typhi NCTC 8385, S. Typhi NCTC 786 (Vi negative), Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (ATCC 13076), and Salmonella enterica serovar Ndolo NCTC 8700 (all group D). In a prospective study of 6,456 blood culture bottles from 3,028 patients over 15 months, 392 blood culture bottles (6.1%) from 221 (7.3%) patients had Gram-negative rods (GNRs) seen in the blood culture fluid. The sensitivity, negative predictive value, specificity, and positive predictive value were 96.7%, 99.5%, 97.9%, and 87.9%, respectively, for patients with proven S. Typhi bacteremia and 91.2%, 98.4%, 98.9%, and 93.9% for patients with group D Salmonella. The median (range) number of days between diagnosis by RDT and reference assays was 1 (-1 to +2) day for those with confirmed S. Typhi. The use of antigen-based pathogen detection in blood culture fluid may be a useful, relatively rapid, inexpensive, and accurate technique for the identification of important causes of bacteremia in the tropics.

Lee SJ, Newton PN. 2012. Use of the correlation coefficient to compare a point-of-care antigen test against a quantitative sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of cryptococcal meningitis. Clin Infect Dis, 55 (12), pp. 1744-1745. | Read more

Blacksell SD, Lee SJ, Chanthongthip A, Taojaikong T, Thongpaseuth S, Hübscher T, Newton PN. 2012. Comparison of performance of serum and plasma in panbio dengue and Japanese encephalitis virus enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 87 (3), pp. 573-575. | Show Abstract | Read more

We examined the comparative performance of serum and plasma (in dipotassium EDTA) in Panbio Dengue enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for detection of non-structural protein 1 (NS1), IgM, and IgG, and a dengue/Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) combination IgM ELISA in a prospective series of 201 patients with suspected dengue in Laos. Paired comparisons of medians from serum and plasma samples were not significantly different for Dengue IgM, and NS1 which had the highest number of discordant pairs (both 2%; P = 0.13 and P = 0.25, respectively). Comparison of qualitative final diagnostic interpretations for serum and plasma samples were not significantly different: only 1.5% (3 of 201 for Dengue/JEV IgM and Dengue IgG) and 2.0% (4 of 201; IgM and NS1) showed discordant pairs. These results demonstrate that plasma containing EDTA is suitable for use in these ELISAs.

Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Smythe L, Dohnt M, Hartskeerl R, Vongsouvath M, Davong V, Lattana O, Newton PN, Blacksell SD. 2012. Evaluation of the Standard Diagnostics Leptospira IgM ELISA for diagnosis of acute leptospirosis in Lao PDR. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 106 (9), pp. 563-566. | Show Abstract | Read more

The diagnostic utility of the Standard Diagnostics Leptospira IgM ELISA for detection of acute leptospirosis was assessed in febrile adults admitted in Vientiane, Laos. Using the cut-off suggested by the manufacturer [optical density (OD) ≥0.75], the assay demonstrated limited diagnostic capacity with a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 41% compared with the Leptospira microscopic agglutination test, which is the serological gold standard. However, re-evaluation of the diagnostic cut-off to an OD of 1.7 demonstrated improved diagnostic accuracy overall (sensitivity 70%; specificity 78%).

Moore CE, Blacksell SD, Taojaikong T, Jarman RG, Gibbons RV, Lee SJ, Chansamouth V, Thongpaseuth S, Mayxay M, Newton PN. 2012. A prospective assessment of the accuracy of commercial IgM ELISAs in diagnosis of Japanese encephalitis virus infections in patients with suspected central nervous system infections in Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 87 (1), pp. 171-178. | Show Abstract | Read more

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a major cause of encephalitis in Asia. We estimated the diagnostic accuracy of two anti-JEV immunoglobulin M (IgM) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) (Panbio and XCyton JEVCheX) compared with a reference standard (AFRIMS JEV MAC ELISA) in a prospective study of the causes of central nervous system infections in Laos. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF; 515 patients) and serum samples (182 patients) from those admitted to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, were tested. The CSF from 14.5% of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) patients and 10.1% from those with AES and meningitis were positive for anti-JEV IgM in the reference ELISA. The sensitivities for CSF were 65.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 51-78) (Xcyton), 69.2% (95% CI = 55-81) (Panbio), however 96.2% (95% CI = 87-100) with Panbio Ravi criteria. Specificities were 89-100%. For admission sera from AES patients, sensitivities and specificities of the Panbio ELISA were 85.7% (95% CI = 42-100%) and 92.9% (95% CI = 83-98%), respectively.

Mayxay M, Khanthavong M, Chanthongthip O, Imwong M, Pongvongsa T, Hongvanthong B, Phompida S, Vanisaveth V, White NJ, Newton PN. 2012. Efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine, the nationally-recommended artemisinin combination for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria, in southern Laos. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 184. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The Lao Government changed the national policy for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria from chloroquine to artemether-lumefantrine (AL) in 2005. Since then, no information on AL efficacy has been reported. With evidence of resistance to artemisinin derivatives in adjacent Cambodia, there has been a concern as to AL efficacy. Monitoring of AL efficacy would help the Lao Government to make decisions on appropriate malaria treatment. METHODS: The efficacy of a three-day, twice daily oral artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Xepon District, Savannakhet Province, southern Laos was studied over 42 days follow-up. This was part of a trial of thiamin supplementation in falciparum malaria. RESULTS: Of 630 patients with P. falciparum enrolled in the trial of thiamin treatment, 549 (87%, 357 children ≤15 years and 192 adults) were included in this study. The per protocol 42-day cure rates were 97% (524/541) [96% (337/352) for children and 99% (187/189) for adults, p = 0.042]. By conventional intention-to-treat analysis, the 42-day cure rates adjusted for re-infection, were 97% (532/549) [96% (342/357) in children and 99% (190/192) in adults, p = 0.042]. The proportion of patients who remained parasitaemic at day 1 after treatment was significantly higher in children [33% (116/356)] compared to adults [15% (28/192)] (p < 0.001) and only one adult patient had detectable parasitaemia on day 2. There were no serious adverse events. Potential side effects after treatment were reported more commonly in adults (32%) compared to children (15%) (p < 0.001). Patients with recrudescent infections were significantly younger, had longer mean time to fever clearance, and had longer median time to parasite clearance compared to those who were cured. CONCLUSIONS: The current nationally-recommended anti-malarial treatment (artemether-lumefantrine) remains highly efficacious for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria five years after introduction in Laos. Regular monitoring is required in case artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum parasites should appear. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN85411059.

Luangxay K, Sisouk K, Vorlasan L, Soumphonphakdy B, Sengmouang V, Anderson M, Chansamouth V, Phommasone K, Begue R, Newton P. 2012. High hospital incidence of Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia in young infants in the Lao PDR INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 16 pp. E202-E203. | Read more

Tabernero P, Newton PN. 2012. The WWARN antimalarial quality surveyor. Pathog Glob Health, 106 (2), pp. 77-78. | Read more

Newton P. 2012. Interview. Pathog Glob Health, 106 (2), pp. 69-71. | Read more

Vongphayloth K, Rattanavong S, Moore CE, Phetsouvanh R, Wuthiekanun V, Sengdouangphachanh A, Phouminh P, Newton PN, Buisson Y. 2012. Burkholderia pseudomallei detection in surface water in southern Laos using Moore's swabs. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 86 (5), pp. 872-877. | Show Abstract | Read more

The causal agent of melioidosis, Burkholderia pseudomallei, has been cultured from paddy fields in the Lao PDR. We carried out a pilot study to examine the relationship between bacterial soil contamination and that of nearby surface waters in Saravane Province. Soil sampling was conducted at a depth of 30 cm (100 holes in a 45 × 45 m grid) at two sites, East and West Saravane. Moore's swabs were used for water sampling of paddy fields, lakes, rivers, boreholes, and storage tanks within 2 km of the two soil sampling sites. B. pseudomallei from soil and water were cultured on Ashdown's agar. Thirty-six percent and 6% of water samples collected around East and West Saravane, respectively, were culture positive for B. pseudomallei. Low pH and high turbidity were independently associated with culture of B. pseudomallei. Most positive water samples were from the Sedone River, downstream of the East Saravane site. Moore's swabs are simple and inexpensive tools for detecting B. pseudomallei in surface waters.

Mayxay M, Khanthavong M, Chanthongthip O, Imwong M, Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Soonthornsata B, Pongvongsa T et al. 2012. No evidence for spread of Plasmodium falciparum artemisinin resistance to Savannakhet Province, Southern Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 86 (3), pp. 403-408. | Show Abstract | Read more

We conducted an open-label, randomized clinical trial to assess parasite clearance times (PCT) and the efficacy of 4 mg/kg (group 1, n = 22) and 2 mg/kg (group 2, n = 22) of oral artesunate for three days followed by artemether-lumefantrine in patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria at Xepon Interdistrict Hospital, Savannakhet Province in southern Laos. Slides were read in duplicate. The overall mean (95% confidence interval; range) PCT in hours was 23.2 (21.2-25.3; 12-46) and 22.4 (20.3-24.5; 12-46) for the first and second microscopists, respectively (P = 0.57). Ten (23%) patients remained parasitemic on day 1 after treatment (4 [18%] in group 1 and 6 [27%] in group 2; P = 0.47). No patient had patent asexual parasitemia on the second and third days of treatment. The 42-day polymerase chain reaction-corrected cure rates were 100% in both treatment groups. Serious adverse events did not develop during or after treatment in any patients. In conclusion, no evidence of P. falciparum in vivo resistance to artesunate was found in southern Laos.

Yalcindag E, Elguero E, Arnathau C, Durand P, Akiana J, Anderson TJ, Aubouy A, Balloux F et al. 2012. Multiple independent introductions of Plasmodium falciparum in South America. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (2), pp. 511-516. | Show Abstract | Read more

The origin of Plasmodium falciparum in South America is controversial. Some studies suggest a recent introduction during the European colonizations and the transatlantic slave trade. Other evidence--archeological and genetic--suggests a much older origin. We collected and analyzed P. falciparum isolates from different regions of the world, encompassing the distribution range of the parasite, including populations from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South America. Analyses of microsatellite and SNP polymorphisms show that the populations of P. falciparum in South America are subdivided in two main genetic clusters (northern and southern). Phylogenetic analyses, as well as Approximate Bayesian Computation methods suggest independent introductions of the two clusters from African sources. Our estimates of divergence time between the South American populations and their likely sources favor a likely introduction from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade.

Rattanavong S, Vongthongchit S, Bounphamala K, Vongphakdy P, Gubler J, Mayxay M, Phetsouvanh R, Elliott I et al. 2012. Actinomycetoma in SE Asia: the first case from Laos and a review of the literature. BMC Infect Dis, 12 (1), pp. 349. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mycetoma is a chronic, localized, slowly progressing infection of the cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues caused either by fungi (eumycetoma or implantation mycosis) or by aerobic actinomycetes (actinomycetoma). It is acquired by traumatic implantation, most commonly in the tropics and subtropics, especially in rural agricultural communities. Although well recognized elsewhere in Asia, it has not been reported from the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos). CASE PRESENTATION: A 30 year-old female elementary school teacher and rice farmer from northeast Laos was admitted to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, with a massive growth on her left foot, without a history of trauma. The swelling had progressed slowly but painlessly over 5 years and multiple draining sinuses had developed. Ten days before admission the foot had increased considerably in size and became very painful, with multiple sinuses and discharge, preventing her from walking. Gram stain and bacterial culture of tissue biopsies revealed a branching filamentous Gram-positive bacterium that was subsequently identified as Actinomadura madurae by 16S rRNA gene amplification and sequencing. She was treated with long-term co-trimoxazole and multiple 3-week cycles of amikacin with a good therapeutic response. CONCLUSION: We report the first patient with actinomycetoma from Laos. The disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis of chronic skin and bone infections in patients from rural SE Asia.

Attaran A, Barry D, Basheer S, Bate R, Benton D, Chauvin J, Garrett L, Kickbusch I et al. 2012. How to achieve international action on falsified and substandard medicines. BMJ, 345 (nov13 22), pp. e7381. | Read more

Paris DH, Chansamouth V, Nawtaisong P, Löwenberg EC, Phetsouvanh R, Blacksell SD, Lee SJ, Dondorp AM et al. 2012. Coagulation and inflammation in scrub typhus and murine typhus-a prospective comparative study from Laos Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 18 (12), pp. 1221-1228. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus (caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi) and murine typhus (caused by Rickettsia typhi) cause up to 28% of febrile episodes in Thailand and Laos. The current understanding of coagulation and inflammation in the pathogenesis of these clinically very similar vasculotropic diseases is limited. This study compared human in vivo changes in 15 coagulation, inflammation and endothelial activation markers in prospectively collected admission and follow-up samples of 121 patients (55 scrub typhus, 55 murine typhus, and 11 typhus-like illness) and 51 healthy controls from Laos. As compared with controls, all but one of the markers assessed were significantly affected in typhus patients; however, the activation patterns differed significantly between scrub and murine typhus patients. The levels of markers of coagulation activation and all inflammatory cytokines, except for interleukin-12, were significantly higher in patients with scrub typhus than in those with murine typhus. In patients with murine typhus, however, the levels of endothelium-derived markers were significantly higher. Anticoagulant factors were inhibited in both typhus patient groups. This is the first study demonstrating that, in scrub typhus, in vivo coagulation activation is prominent and is related to a strong proinflammatory response, whereas in murine typhus, changes in coagulant and fibrinolytic pathways are suggestive of endothelial cell perturbation. These data suggest that, although late-stage endothelial infection is common in both diseases, the in vivo pathogenic mechanisms of R. typhi and O. tsutsugamushi could differ in the early phase of infection and may contribute to disease differentiation. © 2011 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection © 2011 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

White LJ, Newton PN, Maude RJ, Pan-ngum W, Fried JR, Mayxay M, Maude RR, Day NP. 2012. Defining disease heterogeneity to guide the empirical treatment of febrile illness in resource poor settings. PLoS One, 7 (9), pp. e44545. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria incidence is in decline in many parts of SE Asia leading to a decreasing proportion of febrile illness that is attributable to malaria. However in the absence of rapid, affordable and accurate diagnostic tests, the non-malaria causes of these illnesses cannot be reliably identified. Studies on the aetiology of febrile illness have indicated that the causes are likely to vary by geographical location within countries (i.e. be spatially heterogeneous) and that national empirical treatment policies based on the aetiology measured in a single location could lead to inappropriate treatment. METHODS: Using data from Vientiane as a reference for the incidence of major febrile illnesses in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) and estimated incidences, plausible incidence in other Lao provinces were generated using a mathematical model for a range of national and local scale variations. For a range of treatment protocols, the mean number of appropriate treatments was predicted and the potential impact of a spatially explicit national empirical treatment protocol assessed. FINDINGS: The model predicted a negative correlation between number of appropriate treatments and the level of spatial heterogeneity. A spatially explicit national treatment protocol was predicted to increase the number of appropriate treatments by 50% for intermediate levels of spatial heterogeneity. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that given even only moderate spatial variation, a spatially explicit treatment algorithm will result in a significant improvement in the outcome of undifferentiated fevers in Laos and other similar resource poor settings.

Blacksell SD, Lee SJ, Chanthongthip A, Taojaikong T, Thongpaseuth S, Hübscher T, Newton PN. 2012. Short report: Comparison of performance of serum and plasma in panbio dengue and Japanese encephalitis virus enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 87 (3), pp. 573-575. | Show Abstract | Read more

We examined the comparative performance of serum and plasma (in dipotassium EDTA) in Panbio Dengue enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for detection of non-structural protein 1 (NS1), IgM, and IgG, and a dengue/Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) combination IgM ELISA in a prospective series of 201 patients with suspected dengue in Laos. Paired comparisons of medians from serum and plasma samples were not significantly different for Dengue IgM, and NS1 which had the highest number of discordant pairs (both 2%; P = 0.13 and P = 0.25, respectively). Comparison of qualitative final diagnostic interpretations for serum and plasma samples were not significantly different: only 1.5% (3 of 201 for Dengue/JEV IgM and Dengue IgG) and 2.0% (4 of 201; IgM and NS1) showed discordant pairs. These results demonstrate that plasma containing EDTA is suitable for use in these ELISAs. Copyright © 2012 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Acestor N, Cooksey R, Newton PN, Ménard D, Guerin PJ, Nakagawa J, Christophel E, González IJ, Bell D. 2012. Mapping the aetiology of non-malarial febrile illness in Southeast Asia through a systematic review--terra incognita impairing treatment policies. PLoS One, 7 (9), pp. e44269. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: An increasing use of point of care diagnostic tests that exclude malaria, coupled with a declining malaria burden in many endemic countries, is highlighting the lack of ability of many health systems to manage other causes of febrile disease. A lack of knowledge of distribution of these pathogens, and a lack of screening and point-of-care diagnostics to identify them, prevents effective management of these generally treatable contributors to disease burden. While prospective data collection is vital, an untapped body of knowledge already exists in the published health literature. METHODS: Focusing on the Mekong region of Southeast Asia, published data from 1986 to 2011 was screened to for frequency of isolation of pathogens implicated in aetiology of non-malarial febrile illness. Eligibility criteria included English-language peer-reviewed studies recording major pathogens for which specific management is likely to be warranted. Of 1,252 identified papers, 146 met inclusion criteria and were analyzed and data mapped. RESULTS: Data tended to be clustered around specific areas where research institutions operate, and where resources to conduct studies are greater. The most frequently reported pathogen was dengue virus (n = 70), followed by Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia species (scrub typhus/murine typhus/spotted fever group n = 58), Leptospira spp. (n = 35), Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and Paratyphi (enteric fever n = 24), Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis n = 14), and Japanese encephalitis virus (n = 18). Wide tracts with very little published data on aetiology of fever are apparent. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: This mapping demonstrates a very heterogeneous distribution of information on the causes of fever in the Mekong countries. Further directed data collection to address gaps in the evidence-base, and expansion to a global database of pathogen distribution, is readily achievable, and would help define wider priorities for research and development to improve syndromic management of fever, prioritize diagnostic development, and guide empirical therapy.

Nayyar GM, Breman JG, Newton PN, Herrington J. 2012. Poor-quality antimalarial drugs in southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet Infect Dis, 12 (6), pp. 488-496. | Show Abstract | Read more

Poor-quality antimalarial drugs lead to drug resistance and inadequate treatment, which pose an urgent threat to vulnerable populations and jeopardise progress and investments in combating malaria. Emergence of artemisinin resistance or tolerance in Plasmodium falciparum on the Thailand-Cambodia border makes protection of the effectiveness of the drug supply imperative. We reviewed published and unpublished studies reporting chemical analyses and assessments of packaging of antimalarial drugs. Of 1437 samples of drugs in five classes from seven countries in southeast Asia, 497 (35%) failed chemical analysis, 423 (46%) of 919 failed packaging analysis, and 450 (36%) of 1260 were classified as falsified. In 21 surveys of drugs from six classes from 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 796 (35%) of 2297 failed chemical analysis, 28 (36%) of 77 failed packaging analysis, and 79 (20%) of 389 were classified as falsified. Data were insufficient to identify the frequency of substandard (products resulting from poor manufacturing) antimalarial drugs, and packaging analysis data were scarce. Concurrent interventions and a multifaceted approach are needed to define and eliminate criminal production, distribution, and poor manufacturing of antimalarial drugs. Empowering of national medicine regulatory authorities to protect the global drug supply is more important than ever.

Cheeseman IH, Miller BA, Nair S, Nkhoma S, Tan A, Tan JC, Al Saai S, Phyo AP et al. 2012. A major genome region underlying artemisinin resistance in malaria. Science, 336 (6077), pp. 79-82. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evolving resistance to artemisinin-based compounds threatens to derail attempts to control malaria. Resistance has been confirmed in western Cambodia and has recently emerged in western Thailand, but is absent from neighboring Laos. Artemisinin resistance results in reduced parasite clearance rates (CRs) after treatment. We used a two-phase strategy to identify genome region(s) underlying this ongoing selective event. Geographical differentiation and haplotype structure at 6969 polymorphic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 91 parasites from Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos identified 33 genome regions under strong selection. We screened SNPs and microsatellites within these regions in 715 parasites from Thailand, identifying a selective sweep on chromosome 13 that shows strong association (P = 10(-6) to 10(-12)) with slow CRs, illustrating the efficacy of targeted association for identifying the genetic basis of adaptive traits.

Kernif T, Socolovschi C, Wells K, Lakim MB, Inthalad S, Slesak G, Boudebouch N, Beaucournu JC, Newton PN, Raoult D, Parola P. 2012. Bartonella and Rickettsia in arthropods from the Lao PDR and from Borneo, Malaysia. Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis, 35 (1), pp. 51-57. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rickettsioses and bartonelloses are arthropod-borne diseases of mammals with widespread geographical distributions. Yet their occurrence in specific regions, their association with different vectors and hosts and the infection rate of arthropod-vectors with these agents remain poorly studied in South-east Asia. We conducted entomological field surveys in the Lao PDR (Laos) and Borneo, Malaysia by surveying fleas, ticks, and lice from domestic dogs and collected additional samples from domestic cows and pigs in Laos. Rickettsia felis was detected by real-time PCR with similar overall flea infection rate in Laos (76.6%, 69/90) and Borneo (74.4%, 268/360). Both of the encountered flea vectors Ctenocephalides orientis and Ctenocephalides felis felis were infected with R. felis. The degrees of similarity of partial gltA and ompA genes with recognized species indicate the rickettsia detected in two Boophilus spp. ticks collected from a cow in Laos may be a new species. Isolation and further characterization will be necessary to specify it as a new species. Bartonella clarridgeiae was detected in 3/90 (3.3%) and 2/360 (0.6%) of examined fleas from Laos and Borneo, respectively. Two fleas collected in Laos and one flea collected in Borneo were co-infected with both R. felis and B. clarridgeiae. Further investigations are needed in order to isolate these agents and to determine their epidemiology and aetiological role in unknown fever in patients from these areas.

Paris DH, Phetsouvanh R, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jones M, Jenjaroen K, Vongsouvath M, Ferguson DP, Blacksell SD, Newton PN, Day NP, Turner GD. 2012. Orientia tsutsugamushi in human scrub typhus eschars shows tropism for dendritic cells and monocytes rather than endothelium. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 6 (1), pp. e1466. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus is a common and underdiagnosed cause of febrile illness in Southeast Asia, caused by infection with Orientia tsutsugamushi. Inoculation of the organism at a cutaneous mite bite site commonly results in formation of a localized pathological skin reaction termed an eschar. The site of development of the obligate intracellular bacteria within the eschar and the mechanisms of dissemination to cause systemic infection are unclear. Previous postmortem and in vitro reports demonstrated infection of endothelial cells, but recent pathophysiological investigations of typhus patients using surrogate markers of endothelial cell and leucocyte activation indicated a more prevalent host leucocyte than endothelial cell response in vivo. We therefore examined eschar skin biopsies from patients with scrub typhus to determine and characterize the phenotypes of host cells in vivo with intracellular infection by O. tsutsugamushi, using histology, immunohistochemistry, double immunofluorescence confocal laser scanning microscopy and electron microscopy. Immunophenotyping of host leucocytes infected with O. tsutsugamushi showed a tropism for host monocytes and dendritic cells, which were spatially related to different histological zones of the eschar. Infected leucocyte subsets were characterized by expression of HLADR+, with an "inflammatory" monocyte phenotype of CD14/LSP-1/CD68 positive or dendritic cell phenotype of CD1a/DCSIGN/S100/FXIIIa and CD163 positive staining, or occasional CD3 positive T-cells. Endothelial cell infection was rare, and histology did not indicate a widespread inflammatory vasculitis as the cause of the eschar. Infection of dendritic cells and activated inflammatory monocytes offers a potential route for dissemination of O. tsutsugamushi from the initial eschar site. This newly described cellular tropism for O. tsutsugamushi may influence its interaction with local host immune responses.

Newton PN, Green MD, Mildenhall DC, Plançon A, Nettey H, Nyadong L, Hostetler DM, Swamidoss I et al. 2011. Poor quality vital anti-malarials in Africa - an urgent neglected public health priority. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 352. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains a major public health problem. A vital component of malaria control rests on the availability of good quality artemisinin-derivative based combination therapy (ACT) at the correct dose. However, there are increasing reports of poor quality anti-malarials in Africa. METHODS: Seven collections of artemisinin derivative monotherapies, ACT and halofantrine anti-malarials of suspicious quality were collected in 2002/10 in eleven African countries and in Asia en route to Africa. Packaging, chemical composition (high performance liquid chromatography, direct ionization mass spectrometry, X-ray diffractometry, stable isotope analysis) and botanical investigations were performed. RESULTS: Counterfeit artesunate containing chloroquine, counterfeit dihydroartemisinin (DHA) containing paracetamol (acetaminophen), counterfeit DHA-piperaquine containing sildenafil, counterfeit artemether-lumefantrine containing pyrimethamine, counterfeit halofantrine containing artemisinin, and substandard/counterfeit or degraded artesunate and artesunate+amodiaquine in eight countries are described. Pollen analysis was consistent with manufacture of counterfeits in eastern Asia. These data do not allow estimation of the frequency of poor quality anti-malarials in Africa. CONCLUSIONS: Criminals are producing diverse harmful anti-malarial counterfeits with important public health consequences. The presence of artesunate monotherapy, substandard and/or degraded and counterfeit medicines containing sub-therapeutic amounts of unexpected anti-malarials will engender drug resistance. With the threatening spread of artemisinin resistance to Africa, much greater investment is required to ensure the quality of ACTs and removal of artemisinin monotherapies. The International Health Regulations may need to be invoked to counter these serious public health problems.

Newton PN, Amin AA, Bird C, Passmore P, Dukes G, Tomson G, Simons B, Bate R, Guerin PJ, White NJ. 2011. The primacy of public health considerations in defining poor quality medicines. PLoS Med, 8 (12), pp. e1001139. | Read more

Paris DH, Chansamouth V, Nawtaisong P, Löwenberg EC, Phetsouvanh R, Blacksell SD, Lee SJ, Dondorp AM et al. 2012. Coagulation and inflammation in scrub typhus and murine typhus--a prospective comparative study from Laos. Clin Microbiol Infect, 18 (12), pp. 1221-1228. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus (caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi) and murine typhus (caused by Rickettsia typhi) cause up to 28% of febrile episodes in Thailand and Laos. The current understanding of coagulation and inflammation in the pathogenesis of these clinically very similar vasculotropic diseases is limited. This study compared human in vivo changes in 15 coagulation, inflammation and endothelial activation markers in prospectively collected admission and follow-up samples of 121 patients (55 scrub typhus, 55 murine typhus, and 11 typhus-like illness) and 51 healthy controls from Laos. As compared with controls, all but one of the markers assessed were significantly affected in typhus patients; however, the activation patterns differed significantly between scrub and murine typhus patients. The levels of markers of coagulation activation and all inflammatory cytokines, except for interleukin-12, were significantly higher in patients with scrub typhus than in those with murine typhus. In patients with murine typhus, however, the levels of endothelium-derived markers were significantly higher. Anticoagulant factors were inhibited in both typhus patient groups. This is the first study demonstrating that, in scrub typhus, in vivo coagulation activation is prominent and is related to a strong proinflammatory response, whereas in murine typhus, changes in coagulant and fibrinolytic pathways are suggestive of endothelial cell perturbation. These data suggest that, although late-stage endothelial infection is common in both diseases, the in vivo pathogenic mechanisms of R. typhi and O. tsutsugamushi could differ in the early phase of infection and may contribute to disease differentiation.

Stoesser N, Crook DW, Moore CE, Phetsouvanh R, Chansamouth V, Newton PN, Jones N. 2012. Characteristics of CTX-M ESBL-producing Escherichia coli isolates from the Lao People's Democratic Republic, 2004-09. J Antimicrob Chemother, 67 (1), pp. 240-242. | Read more

Mok S, Imwong M, Mackinnon MJ, Sim J, Ramadoss R, Yi P, Mayxay M, Chotivanich K et al. 2011. Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum is associated with an altered temporal pattern of transcription. BMC Genomics, 12 (1), pp. 391. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria has emerged in Western Cambodia. This is a major threat to global plans to control and eliminate malaria as the artemisinins are a key component of antimalarial treatment throughout the world. To identify key features associated with the delayed parasite clearance phenotype, we employed DNA microarrays to profile the physiological gene expression pattern of the resistant isolates. RESULTS: In the ring and trophozoite stages, we observed reduced expression of many basic metabolic and cellular pathways which suggests a slower growth and maturation of these parasites during the first half of the asexual intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC). In the schizont stage, there is an increased expression of essentially all functionalities associated with protein metabolism which indicates the prolonged and thus increased capacity of protein synthesis during the second half of the resistant parasite IDC. This modulation of the P. falciparum intraerythrocytic transcriptome may result from differential expression of regulatory proteins such as transcription factors or chromatin remodeling associated proteins. In addition, there is a unique and uniform copy number variation pattern in the Cambodian parasites which may represent an underlying genetic background that contributes to the resistance phenotype. CONCLUSIONS: The decreased metabolic activities in the ring stages are consistent with previous suggestions of higher resilience of the early developmental stages to artemisinin. Moreover, the increased capacity of protein synthesis and protein turnover in the schizont stage may contribute to artemisinin resistance by counteracting the protein damage caused by the oxidative stress and/or protein alkylation effect of this drug. This study reports the first global transcriptional survey of artemisinin resistant parasites and provides insight to the complexities of the molecular basis of pathogens with drug resistance phenotypes in vivo.

Khennavong M, Davone V, Vongsouvath M, Phetsouvanh R, Silisouk J, Rattana O, Mayxay M, Castonguay-Vanier J, Moore CE, Strobel M, Newton PN. 2011. Urine antibiotic activity in patients presenting to hospitals in Laos: implications for worsening antibiotic resistance. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 85 (2), pp. 295-302. | Show Abstract | Read more

Widespread use of antibiotics may be important in the spread of antimicrobial resistance. We estimated the proportion of Lao in- and outpatients who had taken antibiotics before medical consultation by detecting antibiotic activity in their urine added to lawns of Bacillus stearothermophilus, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus pyogenes. In the retrospective (N = 2,058) and prospective studies (N = 1,153), 49.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 47.4-52.0) and 36.2% (95% CI = 33.4-38.9), respectively, of Vientiane patients had urinary antibiotic activity detected. The highest frequency of estimated antibiotic pre-treatment was found in patients recruited with suspected central nervous system infections and community-acquired septicemia (both 56.8%). In Vientiane, children had a higher frequency of estimated antibiotic pre-treatment than adults (60.0% versus 46.5%; P < 0.001). Antibiotic use based on patients histories was significantly less frequent than when estimated from urinary antibiotic activity (P < 0.0001).

Lubell Y, Staedke SG, Greenwood BM, Kamya MR, Molyneux M, Newton PN, Reyburn H, Snow RW et al. 2011. Likely health outcomes for untreated acute febrile illness in the tropics in decision and economic models; a Delphi survey. PLoS One, 6 (2), pp. e17439. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Modelling is widely used to inform decisions about management of malaria and acute febrile illnesses. Most models depend on estimates of the probability that untreated patients with malaria or bacterial illnesses will progress to severe disease or death. However, data on these key parameters are lacking and assumptions are frequently made based on expert opinion. Widely diverse opinions can lead to conflicting outcomes in models they inform. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A Delphi survey was conducted with malaria experts aiming to reach consensus on key parameters for public health and economic models, relating to the outcome of untreated febrile illnesses. Survey questions were stratified by malaria transmission intensity, patient age, and HIV prevalence. The impact of the variability in opinion on decision models is illustrated with a model previously used to assess the cost-effectiveness of malaria rapid diagnostic tests. Some consensus was reached around the probability that patients from higher transmission settings with untreated malaria would progress to severe disease (median 3%, inter-quartile range (IQR) 1-5%), and the probability that a non-malaria illness required antibiotics in areas of low HIV prevalence (median 20%). Children living in low transmission areas were considered to be at higher risk of progressing to severe malaria (median 30%, IQR 10-58%) than those from higher transmission areas (median 13%, IQR 7-30%). Estimates of the probability of dying from severe malaria were high in all settings (medians 60-73%). However, opinions varied widely for most parameters, and did not converge on resurveying. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the uncertainty around potential consequences of untreated malaria and bacterial illnesses. The lack of consensus on most parameters, the wide range of estimates, and the impact of variability in estimates on model outputs, demonstrate the importance of sensitivity analysis for decision models employing expert opinion. Results of such models should be interpreted cautiously. The diversity of expert opinion should be recognised when policy options are debated.

Khounnorath S, Chamberlain K, Taylor AM, Soukaloun D, Mayxay M, Lee SJ, Phengdy B, Luangxay K et al. 2011. Clinically unapparent infantile thiamin deficiency in Vientiane, Laos. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 5 (2), pp. e969. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Beriberi occurs in Vientiane, Lao PDR, among breastfed infants. Clinical disease may be the tip of an iceberg with subclinical thiamin deficiency contributing to other illnesses. Thiamin treatment could improve outcome. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A cohort of 778 sick infants admitted during one year without clinical evidence of beriberi were studied prospectively and erythrocyte transketolase assays (ETK) performed. Biochemical thiamin deficiency was defined both in terms of the activation coefficient (α>31%) and basal ETK activity <0.59 micromoles/min/gHb. Of the 778 infants, median (range) age was 5 (0-12) months, 79.2% were breastfed, 5.1% had α>31% and 13.4 % basal ETK<0.59 micromoles/min/gHb. Infants≥2 months old had a higher frequency of biochemical markers of thiamin deficiency. Mortality was 5.5% but, among infants ≥2 months old, mortality was higher in those with basal ETK<0.59 micromoles/min/gHb (3/47, 6.4%) than in those with basal ETK≥0.59 micromoles/min/gHb (1/146, 0.7%) (P=0.045, relative risk=9.32 (95%CI 0.99 to 87.5)). Multivariate regression analysis indicated that infant age≥2 months and fewer maternal years of schooling were independently associated with infant basal ETK<0.59 micromoles/min/gHb. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Clinically unapparent thiamin deficiency is common among sick infants (≥2 months old) admitted to hospital in Vientiane. This may contribute to mortality and a low clinical threshold for providing thiamin to sick infants may be needed.

Conlan JV, Sripa B, Attwood S, Newton PN. 2011. A review of parasitic zoonoses in a changing Southeast Asia. Vet Parasitol, 182 (1), pp. 22-40. | Show Abstract | Read more

Parasitic zoonoses are common and widely distributed in the Southeast Asian region. However, the interactions between parasites, hosts and vectors are influenced by environmental, socio-cultural and livestock production changes that impact on the distribution, prevalence and severity of disease. In this review we provide an update on new knowledge in the context of ongoing changes for the food-borne pig associated zoonoses Taenia solium and Trichinella spp., the food-borne trematodes Opisthorchis viverrini and Clonorchis sinensis, the water-borne trematodes Schistosoma spp., the vector-borne zoonotic protozoa Plasmodium knowlesi and Leishmania spp. and the soil-borne zoonotic hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum. These various changes need to be considered when assessing or developing regional control programs or devising new research initiatives in a changing SE Asia.

Peacock S, Newton P. 2011. In Response American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 84 (2), pp. 359-359. | Read more

Slesak G, Inthalad S, Strobel M, Marschal M, Hall M, Newton PN. 2011. Chromoblastomycosis after a leech bite complicated by myiasis: a case report. BMC Infect Dis, 11 (1), pp. 14. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chromoblastomycosis is a chronic mycotic infection, most common in the tropics and subtropics, following traumatic fungal implantation. CASE PRESENTATION: A 72 year-old farmer was admitted to Luang Namtha Provincial Hospital, northern Laos, with a growth on the left lower leg which began 1 week after a forefoot leech bite 10 years previously. He presented with a cauliflower-like mass and plaque-like lesions on his lower leg/foot and cellulitis with a purulent tender swelling of his left heel. Twenty-two Chrysomya bezziana larvae were extracted from his heel. PCR of a biopsy of a left lower leg nodule demonstrated Fonsecaea pedrosoi, monophora, or F. nubica. He was successfully treated with long term terbinafin plus itraconazole pulse-therapy and local debridement. CONCLUSIONS: Chromoblastomycosis is reported for the first time from Laos. It carries the danger of bacterial and myiasis superinfection. Leech bites may facilitate infection.

Soukaloun D, Lee SJ, Chamberlain K, Taylor AM, Mayxay M, Sisouk K, Soumphonphakdy B, Latsavong K et al. 2011. Erythrocyte transketolase activity, markers of cardiac dysfunction and the diagnosis of infantile beriberi. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 5 (2), pp. e971. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Infantile beriberi is a potentially lethal manifestation of thiamin deficiency, associated with traditional post-partum maternal food avoidance, which persists in the Lao PDR (Laos). There are few data on biochemical markers of infantile thiamin deficiency or indices of cardiac dysfunction as potential surrogate markers. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A case control study of 47 infants with beriberi and age-matched afebrile and febrile controls was conducted in Vientiane, Laos. Basal and activated erythrocyte transketolase activities (ETK) and activation (α) coefficients were assayed along with plasma brain natriuretic peptide, N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide and troponin T. Basal ETK (and to a lesser extent activated ETK) and plasma troponin T were the only infant biochemical markers that predicted infantile beriberi. A basal ETK ≤ 0.59 micromoles/min/gHb gave a sensitivity (95%CI) of 75.0 (47.6 to 92.7)% and specificity (95%CI) of 85.2 (66.3 to 95.8)% for predicting infantile beriberi (OR (95%CI) 15.9 (2.03-124.2); p = 0.008) (area under ROC curve = 0.80). In contrast, the α coefficient did not discriminate between cases and controls. Maternal basal ETK was linearly correlated with infant basal ETK (Pearson's r = 0.66, p < 0.001). The odds of beriberi in infants with detectable plasma troponin T was 3.4 times higher in comparison to infants without detectable troponin T (OR 3.4, 95%CI 1.22-9.73, p = 0.019). Detectable troponin T had a sensitivity (95%CI) of 78.6 (59.0 to 91.7) % and specificity (95%CI) of 56.1 (39.7 to 71.5) % for predicting infantile beriberi. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Basal ETK is a more accurate biochemical marker of infantile beriberi than the activation coefficient. Raised plasma troponin T may be a useful indicator of infantile beriberi in infants at risk and in the absence of other evident causes.

Slesak G, Mounlaphome K, Inthalad S, Phoutsavath O, Mayxay M, Newton PN. 2011. Bowel obstruction from wild bananas: a neglected health problem in Laos. Trop Doct, 41 (2), pp. 85-90. | Show Abstract | Read more

We investigated the significance and risk factors of bowel obstruction caused by the consumption of wild bananas (BOWB) in Laos. Of six patients with BOWB in Luang Namtha, North Laos, five required enterotomy for phytobezoars. All had eaten wild banana (WB) seeds. Of 227 other patients/relatives: 91.2% had eaten WB; 46.3% had also eaten the seeds and 45.4% knew of complications resulting from eating WB; 42.3% were aware of the complications of ingesting the seeds (constipation [37.9%], appendicitis/abdominal pain/vomiting [2.6% each] and bloated stomach/death [1.3% each]). Middle/highland Lao ethnicity was associated with WB and seed consumption (odds ratio [OR] 9.91 and 2.33), male sex with WB consumption and unawareness (OR 4.31 and 1.78). At all surgically-equipped hospitals in Laos, 33/44 doctors knew of BOWB, describing patients as young adults (16/30), male (24/30) and from middleland Lao (18/30). Countrywide, 46/48 patients with BOWB required laparotomy in 2009 (incidence 0.8/100,000). All consumed WB seeds. BOWB is widespread in Laos, especially among young middleland Lao men consuming WB seeds on an empty stomach.

Mayxay M, Keomany S, Khanthavong M, Souvannasing P, Stepniewska K, Khomthilath T, Keola S, Pongvongsa T et al. 2010. A phase III, randomized, non-inferiority trial to assess the efficacy and safety of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in comparison with artesunate-mefloquine in patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in southern Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 83 (6), pp. 1221-1229. | Show Abstract | Read more

We conducted an open, randomized clinical trial of oral dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) versus artesunate-mefloquine (AM) in 300 patients in Laos with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria as part of a multicentre study in Asia. Survival analysis and adjustment for re-infection showed that the 63-day cure rates (95% confidence interval [CI]) were 100% for AM and 99.5% (96.4-99.8%) for DP. The 63-day cure rates per protocol were 99% (97 of 98) for AM and 99.5% (196 of 197) for DP (P = 0.55). The difference (AM minus DP) in cure rates (95% CI) was -0.5% (-5.1 to 2.0%), which is within the 5% non-inferiority margin. The median fever and parasite clearance times were also similar for AM and DP. The proportion of patients with at least one recorded potential adverse event was significantly higher in the AM group (38 of 87, 44%) than in the DP group (57 of 182, 31%) (relative risk = 0.6, 95% CI = 0.4-0.9; P = 0.04). Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is not inferior to AM in the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Laos and is associated with fewer adverse effects. The results of this study were similar to those of the larger multicentre study.

Rattanavong S, Wuthiekanun V, Langla S, Amornchai P, Sirisouk J, Phetsouvanh R, Moore CE, Peacock SJ, Buisson Y, Newton PN. 2011. Randomized soil survey of the distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei in rice fields in Laos. Appl Environ Microbiol, 77 (2), pp. 532-536. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Southeast Asia, where the causative organism (Burkholderia pseudomallei) is present in the soil. In the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos), B. pseudomallei is a significant cause of sepsis around the capital, Vientiane, and has been isolated in soil near the city, adjacent to the Mekong River. We explored whether B. pseudomallei occurs in Lao soil distant from the Mekong River, drawing three axes across northwest, northeast, and southern Laos to create nine sampling areas in six provinces. Within each sampling area, a random rice field site containing a grid of 100 sampling points each 5 m apart was selected. Soil was obtained from a depth of 30 cm and cultured for B. pseudomallei. Four of nine sites (44%) were positive for B. pseudomallei, including all three sites in Saravane Province, southern Laos. The highest isolation frequency was in east Saravane, where 94% of soil samples were B. pseudomallei positive with a geometric mean concentration of 464 CFU/g soil (95% confidence interval, 372 to 579 CFU/g soil; range, 25 to 10,850 CFU/g soil). At one site in northwest Laos (Luangnamtha), only one sample (1%) was positive for B. pseudomallei, at a concentration of 80 CFU/g soil. Therefore, B. pseudomallei occurs in Lao soils beyond the immediate vicinity of the Mekong River, alerting physicians to the likelihood of melioidosis in these areas. Further studies are needed to investigate potential climatic, soil, and biological determinants of this heterogeneity.

Mayxay M, Phetsouvanh R, Moore CE, Chansamouth V, Vongsouvath M, Sisouphone S, Vongphachanh P, Thaojaikong T et al. 2011. Predictive diagnostic value of the tourniquet test for the diagnosis of dengue infection in adults. Trop Med Int Health, 16 (1), pp. 127-133. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To examine the accuracy of the admission tourniquet test in the diagnosis of dengue infection among Lao adults. METHODS: Prospective assessment of the predictive diagnostic value of the tourniquet test for the diagnosis of dengue infection, as defined by IgM, IgG and NS1 ELISAs (Panbio Ltd, Australia), among Lao adult inpatients with clinically suspected dengue infection. RESULTS: Of 234 patients with clinically suspected dengue infection on admission, 73% were serologically confirmed to have dengue, while 64 patients with negative dengue serology were diagnosed as having scrub typhus (39%), murine typhus (11%), undetermined typhus (12%), Japanese encephalitis virus (5%), undetermined flavivirus (5%) and typhoid fever (3%); 25% had no identifiable aetiology. The tourniquet test was positive in 29.1% (95% CI = 23.2-34.9%) of all patients and in 34.1% (95% CI = 27.0-41.2%) of dengue-seropositive patients, in 32.7% (95% CI = 23.5-41.8) of those with dengue fever and in 36.4% (95% CI = 24.7-48.0) of those with dengue haemorrhagic fever. Interobserver agreement for the tourniquet test was 90.2% (95% CI = 86.4-94.0) (Kappa = 0.76). Using ELISAs as the diagnostic gold standard, the sensitivity of the tourniquet test was 33.5-34%; its specificity was 84-91%. The positive and negative predictive values were 85-90% and 32.5-34%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The admission tourniquet test has low sensitivity and adds relatively little value to the diagnosis of dengue among Lao adult inpatients with suspected dengue. Although a positive tourniquet test suggests dengue and that treatment of alternative diagnoses may not be needed, a negative test result does not exclude dengue.

Moore CE, Sengduangphachanh A, Thaojaikong T, Sirisouk J, Foster D, Phetsouvanh R, McGee L, Crook DW, Newton PN, Peacock SJ. 2010. Enhanced determination of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes associated with invasive disease in Laos by using a real-time polymerase chain reaction serotyping assay with cerebrospinal fluid. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 83 (3), pp. 451-457. | Show Abstract | Read more

A prospective hospital-based study was undertaken to define the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) and circulating serotypes in Laos. Of 10,799 patients with hemocultures and 353 patients with cerebrospinal fluid samples, 0.21% and 5.4%, respectively, were positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae, giving a total of 35 IPD patients. We developed a real-time polymerase chain reaction to detect serotypes represented in the 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine. A blinded evaluation comparing serotype as defined by the Quellung reaction versus the polymerase chain reaction demonstrated 100% concordance. The most frequent serotype (n = 33 patients) was 1 (n = 6), followed by serotypes 5, 6A/B/C, 14, and 23F. Serotypes represented in the 7-valent polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) infected 39% of patients, with 73% coverage for the PCV-10 and PCV-13 vaccines. Although the sample size is small, these data suggest that the PCV-7 vaccine may have relatively low efficacy in Laos. Further studies are urgently needed to guide pneumococcal vaccine policy in Laos.

Blacksell SD, Jenjaroen K, Phetsouvanh R, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Phouminh P, Phongmany S, Day NP, Newton PN. 2010. Accuracy of rapid IgM-based immunochromatographic and immunoblot assays for diagnosis of acute scrub typhus and murine typhus infections in Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 83 (2), pp. 365-369. | Show Abstract | Read more

We studied the diagnostic accuracy of a rapid immunochromatographic test (ICT) for detection of IgM against scrub typhus (ST ICT) and an immunoblot test for the detection of IgM against murine typhus (MT IBT) by using admission serum samples from 1,030 febrile patients in Laos. Sensitivity and specificity for the ST ICT determined by using the diagnostic criteria of a four-fold increase in IgM against Orientia tsutsugamushi between paired samples were 23.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 15.9-33.3%) and 86.2% (95% CI = 84.1-88.6%), respectively. Sensitivity and specificity for the ST ICT determined by using an admission IgM titer > or = 1:400 were 39.1% (95% CI = 34.1-44.2%) and 99.5% (95% CI = 98.7-99.9%), respectively. Sensitivity and specificity for the MT IBT determined by using the criteria of a four-fold increase in IgM against Rickettsia typhi between paired serum samples were 61.2% (95% CI = 53.7-68.3%) and 86.5% (95% CI = 84.1-88.8%), respectively. Sensitivity and specificity for the MT IBT determined by using an admission IgM titer > or = 1:400 were 54.6% (95% CI = 49.1-60.0%) and 94.1% (95% CI = 92.0-95.7%), respectively. Both assays had relatively good specificity but low sensitivity and thus have limited utility for admission diagnosis.

Valecha N, Phyo AP, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Krudsood S, Keomany S, Khanthavong M, Pongvongsa T et al. 2010. An open-label, randomised study of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine versus artesunate-mefloquine for falciparum malaria in Asia. PLoS One, 5 (7), pp. e11880. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and piperaquine (PQP) is a promising novel anti-malarial drug effective against multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria. The aim of this study was to show non-inferiority of DHA/PQP vs. artesunate-mefloquine (AS+MQ) in Asia. METHODS AND FINDINGS: This was an open-label, randomised, non-inferiority, 63-day follow-up study conducted in Thailand, Laos and India. Patients aged 3 months to 65 years with Plasmodium falciparum mono-infection or mixed infection were randomised with an allocation ratio of 2:1 to a fixed-dose DHA/PQP combination tablet (adults: 40 mg/320 mg; children: 20 mg/160 [DOSAGE ERROR CORRECTED] mg; n = 769) or loose combination of AS+MQ (AS: 50 mg, MQ: 250 mg; n = 381). The cumulative doses of study treatment over the 3 days were of about 6.75 mg/kg of DHA and 54 mg/kg of PQP and about 12 mg/kg of AS and 25 mg/kg of MQ. Doses were rounded up to the nearest half tablet. The primary endpoint was day-63 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) genotype-corrected cure rate. Results were 87.9% for DHA/PQP and 86.6% for AS+MQ in the intention-to-treat (ITT; 97.5% one-sided confidence interval, CI: >-2.87%), and 98.7% and 97.0%, respectively, in the per protocol population (97.5% CI: >-0.39%). No country effect was observed. Kaplan-Meier estimates of proportions of patients with new infections on day 63 (secondary endpoint) were significantly lower for DHA/PQP than AS+MQ: 22.7% versus 30.3% (p = 0.0042; ITT). Overall gametocyte prevalence (days 7 to 63; secondary endpoint), measured as person-gametocyte-weeks, was significantly higher for DHA/PQP than AS+MQ (10.15% versus 4.88%; p = 0.003; ITT). Fifteen serious adverse events were reported, 12 (1.6%) in DHA/PQP and three (0.8%) in AS+MQ, among which six (0.8%) were considered related to DHA/PQP and three (0.8%) to AS+MQ. CONCLUSIONS: DHA/PQP was a highly efficacious drug for P. falciparum malaria in areas where multidrug parasites are prevalent. The DHA/PQP combination can play an important role in the first-line treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN81306618.

Syhavong B, Rasachack B, Smythe L, Rolain JM, Roque-Afonso AM, Jenjaroen K, Soukkhaserm V, Phongmany S et al. 2010. The infective causes of hepatitis and jaundice amongst hospitalised patients in Vientiane, Laos. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 104 (7), pp. 475-483. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is little information on the diverse infectious causes of jaundice and hepatitis in the Asiatic tropics. Serology (hepatitis A, B, C and E, leptospirosis, dengue, rickettsia), antigen tests (dengue), PCR assays (hepatitis A, C and E) and blood cultures (septicaemia) were performed on samples from 392 patients admitted with jaundice or raised transaminases (> or =x3) to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos over 3 years. Conservative definitions suggested diagnoses of dengue (8.4%), rickettsioses (7.3%), leptospirosis (6.8%), hepatitis B (4.9%), hepatitis C (4.9%), community-acquired septicaemia (3.3%) and hepatitis E (1.6%). Although anti-hepatitis A virus (HAV) IgM antibody results suggested that 35.8% of patients had acute HAV infections, anti-HAV IgG antibody avidity and HAV PCR suggested that 82% had polyclonal activation and not acute HAV infections. Scrub typhus, murine typhus or leptospirosis were present in 12.8% of patients and were associated with meningism and relatively low AST and ALT elevation. These patients would be expected to respond to empirical doxycycline therapy which, in the absence of virological diagnosis and treatment, may be an appropriate cost-effective intervention in Lao patients with jaundice/hepatitis.

Tantibhedhyangkul W, Angelakis E, Tongyoo N, Newton PN, Moore CE, Phetsouvanh R, Raoult D, Rolain JM. 2010. Intrinsic fluoroquinolone resistance in Orientia tsutsugamushi. Int J Antimicrob Agents, 35 (4), pp. 338-341. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus is a public health concern for a population of over a billion humans, with an estimated incidence of one million cases/year in endemic areas. Although doxycycline remains the standard therapy, fluoroquinolones have been used successfully in a few patients. However, there is also clinical evidence that fluoroquinolones are ineffective in the treatment of scrub typhus. To clarify this matter, we determined the in vitro susceptibility of Orientia tsutsugamushi strain Kato to ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin and sequenced the quinolone resistance-determining region (QRDR) of the gyrA gene, the target of fluoroquinolones, of 18 fresh isolates from the Lao PDR. Orientia tsutsugamushi strain Kato was resistant to ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin in vitro (minimum inhibitory concentration=8 microg/mL). All sequences obtained, including those from the two available genomes of O. tsutsugamushi (strains Boryong and Ikeda), had a Ser83Leu mutation in their QRDR domain that is known to be associated with fluoroquinolone resistance. These findings re-emphasise the usefulness of in silico analysis for the prediction of antibiotic resistance and suggest that fluoroquinolones should not be used in the treatment of scrub typhus.

Koh GC, Maude RJ, Paris DH, Newton PN, Blacksell SD. 2010. Diagnosis of scrub typhus. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 82 (3), pp. 368-370. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus is transmitted by trombiculid mites and is endemic to East and Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. The clinical syndrome classically consists of a fever, rash, and eschar, but scrub typhus also commonly presents as an undifferentiated fever that requires laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis, usually by indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) assay. We discuss the limitations of IFA, debate the value of other methods based on antigen detection and nucleic acid amplification, and outline recommendations for future study.

Stepniewska K, Ashley E, Lee SJ, Anstey N, Barnes KI, Binh TQ, D'Alessandro U, Day NP et al. 2010. In vivo parasitological measures of artemisinin susceptibility. J Infect Dis, 201 (4), pp. 570-579. | Show Abstract | Read more

Parasite clearance data from 18,699 patients with falciparum malaria treated with an artemisinin derivative in areas of low (n=14,539), moderate (n=2077), and high (n=2083) levels of malaria transmission across the world were analyzed to determine the factors that affect clearance rates and identify a simple in vivo screening measure for artemisinin resistance. The main factor affecting parasite clearance time was parasite density on admission. Clearance rates were faster in high-transmission settings and with more effective partner drugs in artemisinin-based combination treatments (ACTs). The result of the malaria blood smear on day 3 (72 h) was a good predictor of subsequent treatment failure and provides a simple screening measure for artemisinin resistance. Artemisinin resistance is highly unlikely if the proportion of patients with parasite densities of <100,000 parasites/microL given the currently recommended 3-day ACT who have a positive smear result on day 3 is <3%; that is, for n patients the observed number with a positive smear result on day 3 does not exceed (n + 60)/24.

Newton PN, Green MD, Fernández FM. 2010. Impact of poor-quality medicines in the 'developing' world. Trends Pharmacol Sci, 31 (3), pp. 99-101. | Show Abstract | Read more

Since our ancestors began trading several millennia ago, counterfeit and substandard medicines have been a recurring problem, with history punctuated by crises in the supply of anti-microbials, such as fake cinchona bark in the 1600s and fake quinine in the 1800s. Unfortunately this problem persists, in particular afflicting unsuspecting patients in 'developing' countries. Poor-quality drugs are a vital (but neglected) public health problem. They contribute to a 'crevasse' between the enormous effort in therapeutic research and policy decisions and implementation of good-quality medicines.

Kaur H, Green MD, Hostetler DM, Fernández FM, Newton PN. 2010. Antimalarial drug quality: methods to detect suspect drugs Therapy, 7 (1), pp. 49-57. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is a major public health problem in the endemic countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Poor quality antimalarials are of major, but neglected, concern in the control of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. They cause treatment failure and economic loss, and engender drug resistance and loss of confidence in health systems. The emergence of resistance to the artemisinin derivatives in Asia bodes ill for malaria control in Africa, and strenuous efforts are needed to improve the quality of the world's supply of antimalarials. This article reviews the problem and discusses methods available to determine the quality of antimalarials. © 2010 Future Medicine Ltd.

Vallée J, Thaojaikong T, Moore CE, Phetsouvanh R, Richards AL, Souris M, Fournet F, Salem G, Gonzalez JP, Newton PN. 2010. Contrasting spatial distribution and risk factors for past infection with scrub typhus and murine typhus in Vientiane City, Lao PDR. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (12), pp. e909. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The aetiological diagnostic of fevers in Laos remains difficult due to limited laboratory diagnostic facilities. However, it has recently become apparent that both scrub and murine typhus are common causes of previous undiagnosed fever. Epidemiological data suggests that scrub typhus would be more common in rural areas and murine typhus in urban areas, but there is very little recent information on factors involved in scrub and murine typhus transmission, especially where they are sympatric - as is the case in Vientiane, the capital of the Lao PDR. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We therefore determined the frequency of IgG seropositivity against scrub typhus (Orientia tsutsugamushi) and murine typhus (Rickettsia typhi), as indices of prior exposure to these pathogens, in randomly selected adults in urban and peri-urban Vientiane City (n = 2,002, ≥35 years). Anti-scrub and murine typhus IgG were detected by ELISA assays using filter paper elutes. We validated the accuracy of ELISA of these elutes against ELISA using serum samples. The overall prevalence of scrub and murine typhus IgG antibodies was 20.3% and 20.6%, respectively. Scrub typhus seropositivity was significantly higher among adults living in the periphery (28.4%) than in the central zone (13.1%) of Vientiane. In contrast, seroprevalence of murine typhus IgG antibodies was significantly higher in the central zone (30.8%) as compared to the periphery (14.4%). In multivariate analysis, adults with a longer residence in Vientiane were at significant greater risk of past infection with murine typhus and at lower risk for scrub typhus. Those with no education, living on low incomes, living on plots of land with poor sanitary conditions, living in large households, and farmers were at higher risk of scrub typhus and those living in neighborhoods with high building density and close to markets were at greater risk for murine typhus and at lower risk of scrub typhus past infection. CONCLUSIONS: This study underscores the intense circulation of both scrub and murine typhus in Vientiane city and underlines difference in spatial distribution and risk factors involved in the transmission of these diseases.

Fernandez FM, Hostetler D, Powell K, Kaur H, Green MD, Mildenhall DC, Newton PN. 2011. Poor quality drugs: grand challenges in high throughput detection, countrywide sampling, and forensics in developing countries. Analyst, 136 (15), pp. 3073-3082. | Show Abstract | Read more

Throughout history, poor quality medicines have been a persistent problem, with periodical crises in the supply of antimicrobials, such as fake cinchona bark in the 1600s and fake quinine in the 1800s. Regrettably, this problem seems to have grown in the last decade, especially afflicting unsuspecting patients and those seeking medicines via on-line pharmacies. Here we discuss some of the challenges related to the fight against poor quality drugs, and counterfeits in particular, with an emphasis on the analytical tools available, their relative performance, and the necessary workflows needed for distinguishing between genuine, substandard, degraded and counterfeit medicines.

Blacksell SD, Jenjaroen K, Phetsouvanh R, Wuthiekanun V, Day NP, Newton PN, Ching WM. 2010. Accuracy of AccessBio Immunoglobulin M and Total Antibody Rapid Immunochromatographic Assays for the Diagnosis of Acute Scrub Typhus Infection. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 17 (2), pp. 263-266. | Show Abstract | Read more

Using archived samples, we assessed the diagnostic capacity of a rapid immunochromatographic test (ICT) for the detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi IgM and total antibodies to aid with the diagnosis of acute scrub typhus infection in febrile patients in Laos. The sensitivity and the specificity of the ICT for the detection of IgM were 96.8% (121/125 samples; 95% confidence interval [CI], 92.1 to 99.1%) and 93.3% (98/105 samples; 95% CI, 86.7 to 97.3%), respectively. For the detection of total antibodies, the sensitivity was 97.6% (122/125 samples; 95% CI, 93.1 to 99.5%), but the specificity was much lower, at 71.4% (75/105 samples; 95% CI, 61.8 to 79.8%).

Angelakis E, Khamphoukeo K, Grice D, Newton PN, Roux V, Aplin K, Raoult D, Rolain JM. 2009. Molecular detection of Bartonella species in rodents from the Lao PDR. Clin Microbiol Infect, 15 Suppl 2 (SUPPL. 2), pp. 95-97. | Read more

Newton PN, Rolain JM, Rasachak B, Mayxay M, Vathanatham K, Seng P, Phetsouvanh R, Thammavong T et al. 2009. Sennetsu neorickettsiosis: a probable fish-borne cause of fever rediscovered in Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 81 (2), pp. 190-194. | Show Abstract

Neorickettsia sennetsu has been described from Japan and Malaysia, causing a largely forgotten infectious mononucleosis-like disease. Because it is believed to be contracted from eating raw fish, frequently consumed in the Lao PDR, we looked for evidence of N. sennetsu among Lao patients and fish. A buffy coat from 1 of 91 patients with undifferentiated fever was positive by 16S rRNA amplification and sequencing and real-time polymerase chain reactions (PCR) targeting two N. sennetsu genes. Lao blood donors and patients with fever, hepatitis, or jaundice (N = 1,132) had a high prevalence (17%) of immunofluorescence assay IgG anti-N. sennetsu antibodies compared with 4% and 0% from febrile patients (N = 848) in Thailand and Malaysia, respectively. We found N. sennetsu DNA by PCR, for the first time, in a fish (Anabas testudineus). These data suggest that sennetsu may be an under-recognized cause of fever and are consistent with the hypothesis that it may be contracted from eating raw fish.

Sengaloundeth S, Green MD, Fernández FM, Manolin O, Phommavong K, Insixiengmay V, Hampton CY, Nyadong L et al. 2009. A stratified random survey of the proportion of poor quality oral artesunate sold at medicine outlets in the Lao PDR - implications for therapeutic failure and drug resistance. Malar J, 8 (1), pp. 172. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Counterfeit oral artesunate has been a major public health problem in mainland SE Asia, impeding malaria control. A countrywide stratified random survey was performed to determine the availability and quality of oral artesunate in pharmacies and outlets (shops selling medicines) in the Lao PDR (Laos). METHODS: In 2003, 'mystery' shoppers were asked to buy artesunate tablets from 180 outlets in 12 of the 18 Lao provinces. Outlets were selected using stratified random sampling by investigators not involved in sampling. Samples were analysed for packaging characteristics, by the Fast Red Dye test, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry (MS), X-ray diffractometry and pollen analysis. RESULTS: Of 180 outlets sampled, 25 (13.9%) sold oral artesunate. Outlets selling artesunate were more commonly found in the more malarious southern Laos. Of the 25 outlets, 22 (88%; 95%CI 68-97%) sold counterfeit artesunate, as defined by packaging and chemistry. No artesunate was detected in the counterfeits by any of the chemical analysis techniques and analysis of the packaging demonstrated seven different counterfeit types. There was complete agreement between the Fast Red dye test, HPLC and MS analysis. A wide variety of wrong active ingredients were found by MS. Of great concern, 4/27 (14.8%) fakes contained detectable amounts of artemisinin (0.26-115.7 mg/tablet). CONCLUSION: This random survey confirms results from previous convenience surveys that counterfeit artesunate is a severe public health problem. The presence of artemisinin in counterfeits may encourage malaria resistance to artemisinin derivatives. With increasing accessibility of artemisinin-derivative combination therapy (ACT) in Laos, the removal of artesunate monotherapy from pharmacies may be an effective intervention.

Phetsouvanh R, Blacksell SD, Jenjaroen K, Day NP, Newton PN. 2009. Comparison of indirect immunofluorescence assays for diagnosis of scrub typhus and murine typhus using venous blood and finger prick filter paper blood spots. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 80 (5), pp. 837-840. | Show Abstract

We performed indirect immunofluorescence assays (IFAs) to compare levels of IgM and IgG antibodies to Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia typhi in admission-phase serum samples and filter paper blood spots (assayed immediately and stored at 5.4 degrees C and 29 degrees C for 30 days) collected on the same day from 53 adults with suspected scrub typhus and murine typhus admitted to Mahosot Hospital Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic. The sensitivities and specificities of admission-phase filter paper blood spots in comparison to paired sera were between 91% and 95% and 87% and 100%, respectively, for the diagnosis of scrub typhus and murine typhus. The classification of patients as having or not having typhus did not significantly differ after storage of the blood spots for 30 days (P > 0.4) at 5.4 degrees C and 29 degrees C. Because filter paper blood samples do not require sophisticated and expensive storage and transport, they may be an appropriate specimen collection technique for the diagnosis of rickettsial disease in the rural tropics.

Newton PN, Lee SJ, Goodman C, Fernández FM, Yeung S, Phanouvong S, Kaur H, Amin AA et al. 2009. Guidelines for field surveys of the quality of medicines: a proposal. PLoS Med, 6 (3), pp. e52. | Read more

Barennes H, Simmala C, Odermatt P, Thaybouavone T, Vallee J, Martinez-Aussel B, Newton PN, Strobel M. 2009. Postpartum traditions and nutrition practices among urban Lao women and their infants in Vientiane, Lao PDR (vol 63, pg 323, 2009) EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION, 63 (3), pp. 450-450. | Read more

Charunwatthana P, Abul Faiz M, Ruangveerayut R, Maude RJ, Rahman MR, Roberts LJ, Moore K, Bin Yunus E et al. 2009. N-acetylcysteine as adjunctive treatment in severe malaria: a randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial. Crit Care Med, 37 (2), pp. 516-522. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Markers of oxidative stress are reported to be increased in severe malaria. It has been suggested that the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) may be beneficial in treatment. We studied the efficacy and safety of parenteral NAC as an adjunct to artesunate treatment of severe falciparum malaria. DESIGN: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the use of high-dose intravenous NAC as adjunctive treatment to artesunate. SETTING: A provincial hospital in Western Thailand and a tertiary referral hospital in Chittagong, Bangladesh. PATIENTS: One hundred eight adult patients with severe falciparum malaria. INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomized to receive NAC or placebo as an adjunctive treatment to intravenous artesunate. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: A total of 56 patients were treated with NAC and 52 received placebo. NAC had no significant effect on mortality, lactate clearance times (p = 0.74), or coma recovery times (p = 0.46). Parasite clearance time was increased from 30 hours (range, 6-144 hours) to 36 hours (range, 6-120 hours) (p = 0.03), but this could be explained by differences in admission parasitemia. Urinary F2-isoprostane metabolites, measured as a marker of oxidative stress, were increased in severe malaria compared with patients with uncomplicated malaria and healthy volunteers. Admission red cell rigidity correlated with mortality, but did not improve with NAC. CONCLUSION: Systemic oxidative stress is increased in severe malaria. Treatment with NAC had no effect on outcome in patients with severe falciparum malaria in this setting.

Pybus OG, Barnes E, Taggart R, Lemey P, Markov PV, Rasachak B, Syhavong B, Phetsouvanah R et al. 2009. Genetic history of hepatitis C virus in East Asia. J Virol, 83 (2), pp. 1071-1082. | Show Abstract | Read more

The hepatitis C virus (HCV), which currently infects an estimated 3% of people worldwide, has been present in some human populations for several centuries, notably HCV genotypes 1 and 2 in West Africa and genotype 6 in Southeast Asia. Here we use newly developed methods of sequence analysis to conduct the first comprehensive investigation of the epidemic and evolutionary history of HCV in Asia. Our analysis includes new HCV core (n = 16) and NS5B (n = 14) gene sequences, obtained from serum samples of jaundiced patients from Laos. These exceptionally diverse isolates were analyzed in conjunction with all available reference strains using phylogenetic and Bayesian coalescent methods. We performed statistical tests of phylogeographic structure and applied a recently developed "relaxed molecular clock" approach to HCV for the first time, which indicated an unexpectedly high degree of rate variation. Our results reveal a >1,000-year-long development of genotype 6 in Asia, characterized by substantial phylogeographic structure and two distinct phases of epidemic history, before and during the 20th century. We conclude that HCV lineages representing preexisting and spatially restricted strains were involved in multiple, independent local epidemics during the 20th century. Our analysis explains the generation and maintenance of HCV diversity in Asia and could provide a template for further investigations of HCV spread in other regions.

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Scopus

Zwang J, Ashley EA, Karema C, D'Alessandro U, Smithuis F, Dorsey G, Janssens B, Mayxay M et al. 2009. Safety and efficacy of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in falciparum malaria: A prospective multi-centre individual patient data analysis PLoS ONE, 4 (7), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The fixed dose antimalarial combination of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a promising new artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). We present an individual patient data analysis of efficacy and tolerability in acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria, from seven published randomized clinical trials conducted in Africa and South East Asia using a predefined in-vivo protocol. Comparator drugs were mefloquine-artesunate (MAS3) in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia; artemether-lumefantrine in Uganda; and amodiaquine+sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and artesunate+amodiaquine in Rwanda. Methods and Findings: In total 3,547 patients were enrolled: 1,814 patients (32% children under five years) received DP and 1,733 received a comparator antimalarial at 12 different sites and were followed for 28-63 days. There was no significant heterogeneity between trials. DP was well tolerated with 1.7% early vomiting. There were less adverse events with DP in children and adults compared to MAS3 except for diarrhea; ORs (95%CI) 2.74 (2.13 to 3.51) and 3.11 (2.31 to 4.18), respectively. DP treatment resulted in a rapid clearance of fever and parasitaemia. The PCR genotype corrected efficacy at Day 28 of DP assessed by survival analysis was 98.7% (95%CI 97.6-99.8). DP was superior to the comparator drugs in protecting against both P.falciparum recurrence and recrudescence (P = 0.001, weighted by site). There was no difference between DP and MAS3 in treating P. vivax co-infections and in suppressing the first relapse (median interval to P. vivax recurrence: 6 weeks). Children under 5 y were at higher risk of recurrence for both infections. The proportion of patients developing gametocytaemia (P = 0.002, weighted by site) and the subsequent gametocyte carriage rates were higher with DP (11/1000 person gametocyte week, PGW) than MAS3 (6/ 1000 PGW, P = 0.001, weighted by site). Conclusions: DP proved a safe, well tolerated, and highly effective treatment of P.falciparum malaria in Asia and Africa, but the effect on gametocyte carriage was inferior to that of MAS3. © 2009 Zwang et al.

Barennes H, Simmala C, Odermatt P, Thaybouavone T, Vallee J, Martinez-Aussel B, Newton PN, Strobel M. 2009. Erratum: Postpartum traditions and nutrition practices among urban Lao women and their infants in Vientiane, Lao PDR (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009) vol. 63 (323-331) 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602928) European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63 (3), pp. 450. | Read more

Slesak G, Douangdala P, Inthalad S, Silisouk J, Vongsouvath M, Sengduangphachanh A, Moore CE, Mayxay M, Matsuoka H, Newton PN. 2009. Fatal Chromobacterium violaceum septicaemia in northern Laos, a modified oxidase test and post-mortem forensic family G6PD analysis. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob, 8 (1), pp. 24. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chromobacterium violaceum is a Gram negative facultative anaerobic bacillus, found in soil and stagnant water, that usually has a violet pigmented appearance on agar culture. It is rarely described as a human pathogen, mostly from tropical and subtropical areas. CASE PRESENTATION: A 53 year-old farmer died with Chromobacterium violaceum septicemia in Laos. A modified oxidase method was used to demonstrate that this violacious organism was oxidase positive. Forensic analysis of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase genotypes of his family suggest that the deceased patient did not have this possible predisposing condition. CONCLUSION: C. violaceum infection should be included in the differential diagnosis in patients presenting with community-acquired septicaemia in tropical and subtropical areas. The apparently neglected but simple modified oxidase test may be useful in the oxidase assessment of other violet-pigmented organisms or of those growing on violet coloured agar.

Paris DH, Blacksell SD, Newton PN, Day NP. 2008. Simple, rapid and sensitive detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi by loop-isothermal DNA amplification. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 102 (12), pp. 1239-1246. | Show Abstract | Read more

We present a loop-mediated isothermal PCR assay (LAMP) targeting the groEL gene, which encodes the 60kDa heat shock protein of Orientia tsutsugamushi. Evaluation included testing of 63 samples of contemporary in vitro isolates, buffy coats and whole blood samples from patients with fever. Detection limits for LAMP were assessed by serial dilutions and quantitation by real-time PCR assay based on the same target gene: three copies/microl for linearized plasmids, 26 copies/microl for VERO cell culture isolates, 14 copies/microl for full blood samples and 41 copies/microl for clinical buffy coats. Based on a limited sample number, the LAMP assay is comparable in sensitivity with conventional nested PCR (56kDa gene), with limits of detection well below the range of known admission bacterial loads of patients with scrub typhus. This inexpensive method requires no sophisticated equipment or sample preparation, and may prove useful as a diagnostic assay in financially poor settings; however, it requires further prospective validation in the field setting.

Newton PN. 2008. Different Clinical Expression of Murine Typhus and Scrub Typhus INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 12 pp. E43-E43. | Read more

Dowell FE, Maghirang EB, Fernandez FM, Newton PN, Green MD. 2008. Detecting counterfeit antimalarial tablets by near-infrared spectroscopy. J Pharm Biomed Anal, 48 (3), pp. 1011-1014. | Show Abstract | Read more

Counterfeit antimalarial drugs are found in many developing countries, but it is challenging to differentiate between genuine and fakes due to their increasing sophistication. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a powerful tool in pharmaceutical forensics, and we tested this technique for discriminating between counterfeit and genuine artesunate antimalarial tablets. Using NIRS, we found that artesunate tablets could be identified as genuine or counterfeit with high accuracy. Multivariate classification models indicated that this discriminatory ability was based, at least partly, on the presence or absence of spectral signatures related to artesunate. This technique can be field-portable and requires little training after calibrations are developed, thus showing great promise for rapid and accurate fake detection.

Newton PN, Hampton CY, Alter-Hall K, Teerwarakulpana T, Prakongpan S, Ruangveerayuth R, White NJ, Day NP, Tudino MB, Mancuso N, Fernández FM. 2008. Characterization of "Yaa Chud" Medicine on the Thailand-Myanmar border: selecting for drug-resistant malaria and threatening public health. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 79 (5), pp. 662-669. | Show Abstract

Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a severe public health problem on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Many villagers buy packets of 4-5 mixed medicines ("yaa chud") from shops without medical assessment as their first-line malaria treatment. In 2000-2001 a local researcher purchased 50 yaa chud from 44 shops around Mae Sot, Thailand and Myawaddy, Myanmar (Burma), for his wife who was said to be pregnant with fever and drowsiness. The tablets/capsules were provisionally identified by appearance and active ingredients determined in a subset by using mass and atomic spectrometry. The most frequently detected active ingredients were acetaminophen (22%), chlorpheniramine (13.4%), chloroquine (12.6%), tetracycline/doxycycline (11.4%), and quinine (5.1%). Only seven bags contained potentially curative medicine for malaria. A total of 82% of the bags contained medicines contraindicated in pregnancy. Inappropriate, ineffective antimalarial drugs on the Thailand-Myanmar border are likely to increase malaria morbidity, mortality and health costs and engender the emergence and spread of antimalarial drug resistance.

Nair S, Miller B, Barends M, Jaidee A, Patel J, Mayxay M, Newton P, Nosten F, Ferdig MT, Anderson TJ. 2008. Adaptive copy number evolution in malaria parasites. PLoS Genet, 4 (10), pp. e1000243. | Show Abstract | Read more

Copy number polymorphism (CNP) is ubiquitous in eukaryotic genomes, but the degree to which this reflects the action of positive selection is poorly understood. The first gene in the Plasmodium folate biosynthesis pathway, GTP-cyclohydrolase I (gch1), shows extensive CNP. We provide compelling evidence that gch1 CNP is an adaptive consequence of selection by antifolate drugs, which target enzymes downstream in this pathway. (1) We compared gch1 CNP in parasites from Thailand (strong historical antifolate selection) with those from neighboring Laos (weak antifolate selection). Two percent of chromosomes had amplified copy number in Laos, while 72% carried multiple (2-11) copies in Thailand, and differentiation exceeded that observed at 73 synonymous SNPs. (2) We found five amplicon types containing one to greater than six genes and spanning 1 to >11 kb, consistent with parallel evolution and strong selection for this gene amplification. gch1 was the only gene occurring in all amplicons suggesting that this locus is the target of selection. (3) We observed reduced microsatellite variation and increased linkage disequilibrium (LD) in a 900-kb region flanking gch1 in parasites from Thailand, consistent with rapid recent spread of chromosomes carrying multiple copies of gch1. (4) We found that parasites bearing dhfr-164L, which causes high-level resistance to antifolate drugs, carry significantly (p = 0.00003) higher copy numbers of gch1 than parasites bearing 164I, indicating functional association between genes located on different chromosomes but linked in the same biochemical pathway. These results demonstrate that CNP at gch1 is adaptive and the associations with dhfr-164L strongly suggest a compensatory function. More generally, these data demonstrate how selection affects multiple enzymes in a single biochemical pathway, and suggest that investigation of structural variation may provide a fast-track to locating genes underlying adaptation.

Parola P, Blacksell SD, Phetsouvanh R, Phongmany S, Rolain JM, Day NP, Newton PN, Raoult D. 2008. Genotyping of Orientia tsutsugamushi from humans with scrub typhus, Laos. Emerg Infect Dis, 14 (9), pp. 1483-1485. | Read more

Ricci C, Nyadong L, Yang F, Fernandez FM, Brown CD, Newton PN, Kazarian SG. 2008. Assessment of hand-held Raman instrumentation for in situ screening for potentially counterfeit artesunate antimalarial tablets by FT-Raman spectroscopy and direct ionization mass spectrometry. Anal Chim Acta, 623 (2), pp. 178-186. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pharmaceutical counterfeiting has become a significant public health problem worldwide and new, rapid, user-friendly, reliable and inexpensive methods for drug quality screening are needed. This work illustrates the chemical characterization of genuine and fake artesunate antimalarial tablets by portable Raman spectroscopy and validation by FT-Raman spectroscopy and ambient mass spectrometry. The applicability of a compact and robust portable Raman spectrometer (TruScan) for the in situ chemical identification of counterfeit tablets is reported.

Imwong M, Pukrittayakamee S, Pongtavornpinyo W, Nakeesathit S, Nair S, Newton P, Nosten F, Anderson TJ, Dondorp A, Day NP, White NJ. 2008. Gene amplification of the multidrug resistance 1 gene of Plasmodium vivax isolates from Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 52 (7), pp. 2657-2659. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasmodium vivax mdr1 gene amplification, quantified by real-time PCR, was significantly more common on the western Thailand border (6 of 66 samples), where mefloquine pressure has been intense, than elsewhere in southeast Asia (3 of 149; P = 0.02). Five coding mutations in pvmdr1, independent of gene amplification, were also found.

Paris DH, Jenjaroen K, Blacksell SD, Phetsouvanh R, Wuthiekanun V, Newton PN, Day NP, Turner GD. 2008. Differential patterns of endothelial and leucocyte activation in 'typhus-like' illnesses in Laos and Thailand. Clin Exp Immunol, 153 (1), pp. 63-67. | Show Abstract | Read more

Scrub typhus is responsible for a large proportion of undifferentiated fevers in south-east Asia. The cellular tropism and pathophysiology of the causative agent, Orientia tsutsugamushi, remain poorly understood. We measured endothelial and leucocyte activation by soluble cell adhesion molecule enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in 242 Lao and Thai patients with scrub or murine typhus, leptospirosis, dengue, typhoid and uncomplicated falciparum malaria on admission to hospital. Soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin) levels were lowest in dengue, sL-selectin highest in scrub typhus with a high sE-selectin to sL-selectin ratio in leptospirosis patients. In scrub typhus patients elevated sL-selectin levels correlated with the duration of skin rash (P = 0.03) and the presence of eschar (P = 0.03), elevated white blood cell (WBC) count (P = 0.007), elevated lymphocyte (P = 0.007) and neutrophil counts (P = 0.015) and elevated levels of sE-selectin correlated with the duration of illness before admission (P = 0.03), the presence of lymphadenopathy (P = 0.033) and eschar (P = 0.03), elevated WBC (P = 0.005) and neutrophil counts (P = 0.0003). In comparison, soluble selectin levels in murine typhus patients correlated only with elevated WBC counts (P = 0.03 for sE-selectin and sL-selectin). Soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1 levels were not associated significantly with any clinical parameters in scrub or murine typhus patients. The data presented suggest mononuclear cell activation in scrub typhus. As adhesion molecules direct leucocyte migration and induce inflammatory and immune responses, this may represent O. tsutsugamushi tropism during early dissemination, or local immune activation within the eschar.

Keoluangkhot V, Green MD, Nyadong L, Fernández FM, Mayxay M, Newton PN. 2008. Impaired clinical response in a patient with uncomplicated falciparum malaria who received poor-quality and underdosed intramuscular artemether. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 78 (4), pp. 552-555. | Show Abstract

We describe an adult with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria who did not improve clinically despite 5 days of intramuscular artemether therapy. He was prescribed a lower dose (kg body weight) than that recommended, and a vial from the packet contained only 74% of the artemether dose as stated by the manufacturer. The combination of underdosing, poor-quality drug, and the intrinsic low bioavailability of artemether may have contributed to his poor clinical response. Analysis of the packaging and chemical "fingerprinting" of the artemether suggested that the drug was genuine but was either substandard or had deteriorated after manufacture.

Srour ML, Watt B, Phengdy B, Khansoulivong K, Harris J, Bennett C, Strobel M, Dupuis C, Newton PN. 2008. Noma in Laos: stigma of severe poverty in rural Asia. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 78 (4), pp. 539-542. | Show Abstract

Noma, or cancrum oris, is a debilitating necrotizing ulcerative stomatitis that destroys the mouth and face. It usually starts in early childhood and is associated with severe poverty, malnutrition, and infections. It is most frequently described from sub-Saharan Africa but is under-reported. There have been very few reports from Asia. We describe the clinical and social features of a series of 12 patients with noma from remote poor villages in rural Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos). Noma is an ominous stigma of severe poverty and the description of this disease emphasizes the importance of poverty reduction and nutritional improvement in Lao development. In the meantime, more awareness of the problem and the importance of early therapy in acute noma by primary health care workers may reduce mortality and prevent progression to severe disfigurement.

Cited:

33

WOS

Fernandez FM, Green MD, Newton PN. 2008. Prevalence and detection of counterfeit pharmaceuticals: A mini review INDUSTRIAL & ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY RESEARCH, 47 (3), pp. 585-590. | Read more

Paris DH, Blacksell SD, Stenos J, Graves SR, Unsworth NB, Phetsouvanh R, Newton PN, Day NP. 2008. Real-time multiplex PCR assay for detection and differentiation of rickettsiae and orientiae. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 102 (2), pp. 186-193. | Show Abstract | Read more

The high incidence of rickettsial diseases in Southeast Asia necessitates rapid and accurate diagnostic tools for a broad range of rickettsial agents, including Orientia tsutsugamushi (scrub typhus) and Rickettsia typhi (murine typhus), but also spotted fever group infections, which are increasingly reported. We present an SYBR-Green-based, real-time multiplex PCR assay for rapid identification and differentiation of scrub typhus group, typhus group and spotted fever group rickettsiae using 47kDa, gltA and ompB gene targets. Detection limits for amplification of these genes in reference strains ranged from 24 copies/microl, 5 copies/microl and 1 copy/microl in multiplex and 2 copies/microl, 1 copy/microl and 1 copy/microl in single template format, respectively. Differentiation by melt-curve analysis led to distinct melt temperatures for each group-specific amplicon. The assay was subjected to 54 samples, of which all cell-culture and 75% of characterised clinical buffy coat samples were correctly identified. Real-time PCR has the advantage of reliably detecting and differentiating rickettsial and orientia cell-culture isolates in a single-template assay, compared with the more time-consuming and laborious immunofluorescence assay. However, further optimisation and validation on samples taken directly from patients to assess its clinical diagnostic utility is required.

Newton PN, Fernández FM, Plançon A, Mildenhall DC, Green MD, Ziyong L, Christophel EM, Phanouvong S et al. 2008. A collaborative epidemiological investigation into the criminal fake artesunate trade in South East Asia. PLoS Med, 5 (2), pp. e32. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Since 1998 the serious public health problem in South East Asia of counterfeit artesunate, containing no or subtherapeutic amounts of the active antimalarial ingredient, has led to deaths from untreated malaria, reduced confidence in this vital drug, large economic losses for the legitimate manufacturers, and concerns that artemisinin resistance might be engendered. METHODS AND FINDINGS: With evidence of a deteriorating situation, a group of police, criminal analysts, chemists, palynologists, and health workers collaborated to determine the source of these counterfeits under the auspices of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Western Pacific World Health Organization Regional Office. A total of 391 samples of genuine and counterfeit artesunate collected in Vietnam (75), Cambodia (48), Lao PDR (115), Myanmar (Burma) (137) and the Thai/Myanmar border (16), were available for analysis. Sixteen different fake hologram types were identified. High-performance liquid chromatography and/or mass spectrometry confirmed that all specimens thought to be counterfeit (195/391, 49.9%) on the basis of packaging contained no or small quantities of artesunate (up to 12 mg per tablet as opposed to approximately 50 mg per genuine tablet). Chemical analysis demonstrated a wide diversity of wrong active ingredients, including banned pharmaceuticals, such as metamizole, and safrole, a carcinogen, and raw material for manufacture of methylenedioxymethamphetamine ('ecstasy'). Evidence from chemical, mineralogical, biological, and packaging analysis suggested that at least some of the counterfeits were manufactured in southeast People's Republic of China. This evidence prompted the Chinese Government to act quickly against the criminal traders with arrests and seizures. CONCLUSIONS: An international multi-disciplinary group obtained evidence that some of the counterfeit artesunate was manufactured in China, and this prompted a criminal investigation. International cross-disciplinary collaborations may be appropriate in the investigation of other serious counterfeit medicine public health problems elsewhere, but strengthening of international collaborations and forensic and drug regulatory authority capacity will be required.

Paris DH, Blacksell SD, Newton PN, Day NPJ. 2008. Simple, rapid and sensitive detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi by loop-isothermal DNA amplification Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,

Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Anstey N, Ashley E, Barnes K, Binh TQ, D'Alessandro U, Day NP et al. 2008. The relationship between the haemoglobin concentration and the haematocrit in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 149. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria is a very important cause of anaemia in tropical countries. Anaemia is assessed either by measurement of the haematocrit or the haemoglobin concentration. For comparisons across studies, it is often necessary to derive one measure from the other. METHODS: Data on patients with slide-confirmed uncomplicated falciparum malaria were pooled from 85 antimalarial drug trials conducted in 25 different countries, to assess the haemoglobin/haematocrit relationship at different time points in malaria. Using a linear random effects model, a conversion equation for haematocrit was derived based on 3,254 measurements from various time points (ranging from day 0 to day 63) from 1,810 patients with simultaneous measurements of both parameters. Haemoglobin was also estimated from haematocrit with the commonly used threefold conversion. RESULTS: A good fit was obtained using Haematocrit = 5.62 + 2.60 * Haemoglobin. On average, haematocrit/3 levels were slightly higher than haemoglobin measurements with a mean difference (+/- SD) of -0.69 (+/- 1.3) for children under the age of 5 (n = 1,440 measurements from 449 patients). CONCLUSION: Based on this large data set, an accurate and robust conversion factor both in acute malaria and in convalescence was obtained. The commonly used threefold conversion is also valid.

Peacock SJ, Newton PN. 2008. Public health impact of establishing the cause of bacterial infections in rural Asia. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 102 (1), pp. 5-6. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent studies delineating bacterial causes of fever in rural Asia indicate a major role for several previously under-recognized pathogens, including Rickettsia and Leptospira. The use of blood culture for the first time to investigate patients with febrile illness in rural Asia has also revealed some unexpected findings, e.g. Staphylococcus aureus is the major cause of bacteraemia in children aged <1 year in Laos. The spread of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens such as MRSA into rural Asia has already occurred and requires monitoring. These factors have major implications for empirical therapy of fever. Initiatives are urgently needed to strengthen the infrastructure of microbiology in rural Asia.

Barennes H, Sayasone S, Odermatt P, De Bruyne A, Hongsakhone S, Newton PN, Vongphrachanh P, Martinez-Aussel B, Strobel M, Dupouy-Camet J. 2008. A major trichinellosis outbreak suggesting a high endemicity of Trichinella infection in northern Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 78 (1), pp. 40-44. | Show Abstract

Trichinellosis is an important and under-recognized food-borne zoonosis in Southeast Asia. After 30 years of no reports, a small outbreak was described in Central Lao PDR (Laos) in 2003. Here we report a large outbreak of at least 650 estimated patients in Udomxay (northern Laos) in June 2005. Trichinella ELISA assays on serum from 133 patients and Western blot assays on 16 patients were positive in 67.6% and 81.2%, respectively. No deaths were recorded. Consumption of uncooked or fermented pork at funeral and wedding ceremonies was the main source of infection. Larvae of Trichinella spiralis were found in 1 of 11 local pigs not involved in this outbreak. The results suggest that trichinellosis may be an under-recognized but important endemic disease in Laos and reinforces the need to urgently implement veterinary and educational programs.

Phetsouvanh R, Nakatsu M, Arakawa E, Davong V, Vongsouvath M, Lattana O, Moore CE, Nakamura S, Newton PN. 2008. Fatal bacteremia due to immotile Vibrio cholerae serogroup O21 in Vientiane, Laos - a case report. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob, 7 (1), pp. 10. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Human infections with non-O1, non-O139 V. cholerae have been described from Laos. Elsewhere, non cholera-toxin producing, non-O1, non-O139 V. cholerae have been described from blood cultures and ascitic fluid, although they are exceedingly rare isolates. CASE PRESENTATION: We describe a farmer who died with Vibrio cholerae O21 bacteremia and peritonitis in Vientiane, Laos, after eating partially cooked apple snails (Pomacea canaliculata) and mussels (Ligumia species). The cultured V. cholerae were non-motile. PCR detected ompW and toxR gene regions but not the ctxA, ompU, omp K and TCP gene regions. Although the organisms lacked flagellae on scanning electron microscopy, they possessed the Vibrio flagellin flaA gene. CONCLUSION: Severe bacteremic non-O1, non-O139 V. cholerae is reported from Laos. The organisms were unusual in being non-motile. They possessed the Vibrio flagellin flaA gene. Further research to determine the reasons for the non-motility and virulence is required.

Blacksell SD, Mammen MP, Thongpaseuth S, Gibbons RV, Jarman RG, Jenjaroen K, Nisalak A, Phetsouvanh R, Newton PN, Day NP. 2008. Evaluation of the Panbio dengue virus nonstructural 1 antigen detection and immunoglobulin M antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for the diagnosis of acute dengue infections in Laos. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis, 60 (1), pp. 43-49. | Show Abstract | Read more

We evaluated 2 commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for the diagnosis of dengue infection; one a serologic test for immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies, the other based on detection of dengue virus nonstructural 1 (NS1) antigen. Using gold standard reference serology on paired sera, 41% (38/92 patients) were dengue confirmed, with 4 (11%) acute primary and 33 (87%) acute secondary infections (1 was of indeterminate status). Sensitivity of the NS1-ELISA was 63% (95% confidence interval [CI], 53-73) on admission samples but was much less sensitive (5%; 95% CI, 1-10) on convalescent samples. The IgM capture ELISA had a lower but statistically equivalent sensitivity compared with the NS1-ELISA for admission samples (45%; 95% CI, 35-55) but was more sensitive on convalescent samples (58%; 95% CI, 48-68). The results of the NS1 and IgM capture ELISAs were combined using a logical OR operator, increasing the sensitivity for admission samples (79%; 95% CI, 71-87), convalescent samples (63%; 95% CI, 53-73), and all samples (71%; 95% CI, 65-78).

Chau TT, Campbell JI, Galindo CM, Van Minh Hoang N, Diep TS, Nga TT, Van Vinh Chau N, Tuan PQ et al. 2007. Antimicrobial drug resistance of Salmonella enterica serovar typhi in asia and molecular mechanism of reduced susceptibility to the fluoroquinolones. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 51 (12), pp. 4315-4323. | Show Abstract | Read more

This study describes the pattern and extent of drug resistance in 1,774 strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi isolated across Asia between 1993 and 2005 and characterizes the molecular mechanisms underlying the reduced susceptibilities to fluoroquinolones of these strains. For 1,393 serovar Typhi strains collected in southern Vietnam, the proportion of multidrug resistance has remained high since 1993 (50% in 2004) and there was a dramatic increase in nalidixic acid resistance between 1993 (4%) and 2005 (97%). In a cross-sectional sample of 381 serovar Typhi strains from 8 Asian countries, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, and central Vietnam, collected in 2002 to 2004, various rates of multidrug resistance (16 to 37%) and nalidixic acid resistance (5 to 51%) were found. The eight Asian countries involved in this study are home to approximately 80% of the world's typhoid fever cases. These results document the scale of drug resistance across Asia. The Ser83-->Phe substitution in GyrA was the predominant alteration in serovar Typhi strains from Vietnam (117/127 isolates; 92.1%). No mutations in gyrB, parC, or parE were detected in 55 of these strains. In vitro time-kill experiments showed a reduction in the efficacy of ofloxacin against strains harboring a single-amino-acid substitution at codon 83 or 87 of GyrA; this effect was more marked against a strain with a double substitution. The 8-methoxy fluoroquinolone gatifloxacin showed rapid killing of serovar Typhi harboring both the single- and double-amino-acid substitutions.

Amornchai P, Chierakul W, Wuthiekanun V, Mahakhunkijcharoen Y, Phetsouvanh R, Currie BJ, Newton PN, van Vinh Chau N, Wongratanacheewin S, Day NP, Peacock SJ. 2007. Accuracy of Burkholderia pseudomallei identification using the API 20NE system and a latex agglutination test. J Clin Microbiol, 45 (11), pp. 3774-3776. | Show Abstract | Read more

In an evaluation of the API 20NE for the identification of Burkholderia spp., 792/800 (99%) Burkholderia pseudomallei and 17/19 (89%) B. cepacia isolates were correctly identified but 10 B. mallei and 98 B. thailandensis isolates were not correctly identified. A latex agglutination test was positive for 796/800 (99.5%) B. pseudomallei isolates and negative for 120 other oxidase-positive gram-negative bacilli.

Blacksell SD, Bell D, Kelley J, Mammen MP, Gibbons RV, Jarman RG, Vaughn DW, Jenjaroen K et al. 2007. Prospective study to determine accuracy of rapid serological assays for diagnosis of acute dengue virus infection in Laos. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 14 (11), pp. 1458-1464. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is an urgent need for accurate and simple dengue virus infection diagnostic assays in limited-resource settings of dengue endemicity, to assist patient management. Using a panel of reference samples (S. D. Blacksell, P. N. Newton, D. Bell, J. Kelley, M. P. Mammen, D. W. Vaughn, V. Wuthiekanun, A. Sungkakum, A. Nisalak, and N. P. Day, Clin. Infect. Dis. 42:1127-1134, 2006), we recently evaluated eihgt commercially available immunochromatographic rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) designed to detect dengue virus-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) and/or IgG. We found that 6/8 RDTs had sensitivities of less than 50% (range, 6 to 65%), but specificities were generally high. Here, in conjuction with dengue virus serotyping by reverse transcriptase PCR and in the limited-resource setting of Laos, where dengue virus is endemic, we evaluated the same eight RDTs against a previously validated dengue IgM/IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for diagnosis of acute dengue virus infection. Paired serum samples were collected from 87 patients, of whom 38 had confirmed dengue virus infections (4 had primary infections, 33 had secondary infections, and 1 had an infection of indeterminate status). RDT sensitivity was low, with 7/8 RDTs having admission sample sensitivities of less than 20% (range, 4 to 26%). The majority (6/8) of the RDTs, demonstrated high specificity (>95%). Kappa statistic values ranged from 6 to 54% for the RDTs, demonstrating poor to moderate variation between three operators. No RDT adequately differentiated between primary and secondary dengue virus infections. The findings of this study suggest that currently available RDTs based on the detection of IgM antibodies for the diagnosis of acute dengue virus infections are unlikely to be useful for patient management.

Keomany S, Mayxay M, Souvannasing P, Vilayhong C, Stuart BL, Srour L, Newton PN. 2007. Toad poisoning in Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 77 (5), pp. 850-853. | Show Abstract

We describe two patients who developed severe illness after eating the skin and eggs of a toad, probably Bufo melanostictus Schneider, in southeastern Laos. One boy died, and one developed a digoxin toxicity-like syndrome with bradycardia and heart failure but survived. A telephone survey of 16 Lao provincial hospitals suggested that toad poisoning occurs in at least six provinces. That 93% of villagers in three villages in southeastern Laos were aware that toads are poisonous but that 51% had encountered patients with toad toxicity suggests that the potential gravity is not appreciated. These data indicate that toad poisoning may be underestimated and that education on the seriousness of toad toxins could be a useful public health measure.

Ricci C, Eliasson C, Macleod NA, Newton PN, Matousek P, Kazarian SG. 2007. Characterization of genuine and fake artesunate anti-malarial tablets using Fourier transform infrared imaging and spatially offset Raman spectroscopy through blister packs. Anal Bioanal Chem, 389 (5), pp. 1525-1532. | Show Abstract | Read more

In support of the efforts to combat the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit anti-malarial drugs, we evaluated a new analytical approach for the characterization and fast screening of fake and genuine artesunate tablets using a combination of Raman spectroscopy, Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS) and Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) imaging. Vibrational spectroscopy provided chemically specific information on the composition of the tablets; the complementary nature of Raman scattering and FTIR imaging allowed the characterization of both the overall and surface composition of the tablets. The depth-resolving power of the SORS approach provided chemically specific information on the overall composition of the tablets, non-invasively, through a variety of packaging types. Spatial imaging of the tablet surface (using ATR-FTIR) identified the location of domains of excipients and active ingredients with high sensitivity and enhanced spatial resolution. The advantages provided by a combination of SORS and ATR-FTIR imaging in this context confirm its potential for inclusion in the analytical protocol for forensic investigation of counterfeit medicines.

Newton PN, Mayxay M, Taylor A, White NJ. 2007. Untitled TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 12 (10), pp. 1272-1273.

Mayxay M, Nair S, Sudimack D, Imwong M, Tanomsing N, Pongvongsa T, Phompida S, Phetsouvanh R, White NJ, Anderson TJ, Newton PN. 2007. Combined molecular and clinical assessment of Plasmodium falciparum antimalarial drug resistance in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos). Am J Trop Med Hyg, 77 (1), pp. 36-43. | Show Abstract

Molecular markers provide a rapid and relatively inexpensive approach for assessing antimalarial drug susceptibility. We collected 884 Plasmodium falciparum-infected blood samples from 17 Lao provinces. Each sample was genotyped for 11 codons in the chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt), dihydrofolate reductase (pfdhfr), and dihydropteroate synthase (pfdhps) genes. The samples included 227 collected from patients recruited to clinical trials. The pfcrt K76T mutation was an excellent predictor of treatment failure for both chloroquine and chloroquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, and mutations in both pfdhfr and pfdhps were predictive of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine treatment failure. In multivariate analysis, the presence of the pfdhfr triple mutation (51 + 59 + 108) was strongly and independently correlated with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine failure (odds ratio = 9.1, 95% confidence interval = 1.4-60.2, P = 0.017). Considerable geographic heterogeneity in allele frequencies occurred at all three loci with lower frequencies of mutant alleles in southern than in northern Laos. These findings suggest that chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine are no longer viable therapy in this country.

Imwong M, Nair S, Pukrittayakamee S, Sudimack D, Williams JT, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Kim JR et al. 2007. Contrasting genetic structure in Plasmodium vivax populations from Asia and South America. Int J Parasitol, 37 (8-9), pp. 1013-1022. | Show Abstract | Read more

Populations of Plasmodium falciparum show striking differences in linkage disequilibrium, population differentiation and diversity, but only fragmentary data exists on the genetic structure of Plasmodium vivax. We genotyped nine tandem repeat loci bearing 2-8 bp motifs from 345 P. vivax infections collected from three Asian countries and from five locations in Colombia. We observed 9-37 alleles per locus and high diversity (He=0.72-0.79, mean=0.75) in all countries. Numbers of multiple clone infections varied considerably: these were rare in Colombia and India, but > 60% of isolates carried multiple alleles in at least one locus in Thailand and Laos. However, only one or two of the nine loci show >1 allele in many samples, suggesting that mutation within infections may result in overestimation of true multiple carriage rates. Identical nine-locus genotypes were frequently found in Colombian populations, contributing to strong linkage disequilibrium. These identical genotypes were strongly clustered in time, consistent with epidemic transmission of clones and subsequent breakdown of allelic associations, suggesting high rates of inbreeding and low effective recombination rates in this country. In contrast, identical genotypes were rare and loci were randomly associated in all three Asian populations, consistent with higher rates of outcrossing and recombination. We observed low but significant differentiation between different Asian countries (standardized FST = 0.13-0.45). In comparison, we see greater differentiation between collection locations within Colombia (standardized FST = 0.4-0.7), and strong differentiation between continents (standardized FST = 0.48-0.79). The observed heterogeneity in multiple clone carriage rates, linkage disequilibrium and population differentiation are similar in some, but not all, respects to those observed in P. falciparum, and have important implications for the design of association mapping studies, and interpretation of P. vivax epidemiology.

Paris DH, Jenjaroen K, Blacksell SD, Rattanaphone P, Newton PN, Turner GD, Day NP. 2007. Differential patterns of endothelial activation in 'typhus-like' illness TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 12 pp. 189-189.

Mayxay M, Pongvongsa T, Phompida S, Phetsouvanh R, White NJ, Newton PN. 2007. Diagnosis and management of malaria by rural community health providers in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos). Trop Med Int Health, 12 (4), pp. 540-546. | Show Abstract | Read more

We assessed the knowledge of malaria diagnosis and management by community health providers in rural Vientiane and Savannakhet Provinces, Lao PDR. Sixty health providers (17 pharmacy owners/drug sellers and 43 village health volunteers) were interviewed. All diagnosed malaria using symptoms and signs only; 14% were aware of >2 criteria for the diagnosis of severe malaria. Although chloroquine and quinine, the then recommended Lao national policy for uncomplicated malaria treatment, were the most common antimalarials prescribed - 65% gave incorrect doses and 70% did not know the side effects. Although not recommended by the then national policy, 27% of the health providers used combinations of antimalarials as they considered monotherapy ineffective. This study strongly suggests that further training of Lao rural health providers in malaria diagnosis and management is needed to improve the quality of health services in areas remote from district hospitals.

Newton PN, Green MD, Fernandez F. 2007. Counterfeit artemisinin derivatives and Africa: update from authors. PLoS Med, 4 (3), pp. e139. | Read more

Blacksell SD, Myint KS, Khounsy S, Phruaravanh M, Mammen MP, Day NP, Newton PN. 2007. Prevalence of hepatitis E virus antibodies in pigs: implications for human infections in village-based subsistence pig farming in the Lao PDR. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 101 (3), pp. 305-307. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a high seroprevalence of hepatitis E virus (HEV) in pigs in the Lao PDR. HEV seroprevalence was 51.2% (300/586) amongst abattoir pigs and 15.3% (46/301) amongst village pigs. The age distribution suggested previous in-village HEV pig infections. These findings suggest a zoonotic risk associated with village-based smallholder pig farming.

Mayxay M, Taylor AM, Khanthavong M, Keola S, Pongvongsa T, Phompida S, Phetsouvanh R, White NJ, Newton PN. 2007. Thiamin deficiency and uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Laos. Trop Med Int Health, 12 (3), pp. 363-369. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Thiamin deficiency complicates severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand and may contribute to acidosis. We therefore estimated the frequency of biochemical thiamin deficiency in patients presenting with uncomplicated falciparum malaria in southern Laos. METHODS: Red cell transketolase activation coefficients (alpha) were measured in 310 patients presenting with uncomplicated falciparum malaria and 42 days after starting treatment. RESULTS: Twelve per cent of patients had biochemical evidence of severe deficiency (alpha values >1.31) at presentation, declining to 3% 42 days later. CONCLUSION: Thiamin deficiency was common in Lao patients admitted with uncomplicated P. falciparum infection and was reduced following treatment of malaria and multivitamin supplementation. The role of this preventable and treatable disorder in malaria and other acute infections, and the incidence of beriberi in rural Laos, needs further investigation.

Nyadong L, Green MD, De Jesus VR, Newton PN, Fernández FM. 2007. Reactive desorption electrospray ionization linear ion trap mass spectrometry of latest-generation counterfeit antimalarials via noncovalent complex formation. Anal Chem, 79 (5), pp. 2150-2157. | Show Abstract | Read more

Desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI MS) is rapidly becoming accepted as a powerful surface characterization tool for a wide variety of samples in the open air. Besides its well-established high-throughput capabilities, a unique feature of DESI is that chemical reactions between the charged spray microdroplets and surface molecules can be exploited to enhance ionization. Here, we present a rapid screening assay for artesunate antimalarials based on reactive DESI. Artesunate is a vital therapy for Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but artesunate tablets have been counterfeited on a very large scale in SE Asia, and more recently in Africa. For this reason, faster and more sensitive screening tests are urgently needed. The proposed DESI assay is based on the formation of stable noncovalent complexes between linear alkylamines dissolved in the DESI spray solution and artesunate molecules exposed on the tablet surface. We found that, depending on amine type and concentration, a sensitivity gain of up to 170x can be obtained, in comparison to reagent-less DESI. Hexylamine (Hex), dodecylamine (DDA), and octadecylamine (ODA) produced proton-bound noncovalent complexes with gas-phase stabilities, increasing in the order [M + Hex + H]+ < [M + DDA + H]+ < [M + ODA + H]+. Tandem MS experiments revealed that complex formation occurred by hydrogen bonding between the amine nitrogen and the ether-like moieties within the artesunate lactone ring. After the reactive DESI assay was fully characterized, it was applied to a set of recently collected suspicious artesunate tablets purchased in shops and pharmacies in SE Asia. Not only did we find that these samples were counterfeits, but we also detected the presence of several wrong active ingredients. Of particular concern was the positive detection of artesunate traces in the surface of one of the samples, which we quantified with standard chromatographic techniques.

Cited:

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Scopus

de Veij M, Vandenabeele P, Hall KA, Fernandez FM, Green MD, White NJ, Dondorp AM, Newton PN, Moens L. 2007. Fast detection and identification of counterfeit antimalarial tablets by Raman spectroscopy JOURNAL OF RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY, 38 (2), pp. 181-187. | Show Abstract | Read more

During the last decade there has been an apparent increase in the prevalence of counterfeit medicines in developing as well as developed countries. The pivotal antimalarial artesunate has been counterfeited on a large scale in SE Asia. In this work, the possibilities of Raman spectroscopy are explored as a fast and reliable screening method for the detection of counterfeit artesunate tablets. In this study, 50 'artesunate tablets', purchased in SE Asia, were examined. This spectroscopic method was able to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit artesunate and to identify the composition of the counterfeit tablets. These contained no detectable levels of artesunate, but consisted mostly of starch, calcite (CaCO3), and paracetamol (4-acetamidophenol). In one particular case an admixture of rutile (TiO2) and artesunate was detected. The results of the investigation by Raman spectroscopy were in agreement with those of colorimetric tests and of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry on the artesunate. Moreover, principal components analysis (PCA) was combined with hierarchical cluster analysis to establish an automated approach for the discrimination between different groups of counterfeits and genuine artesunate tablets. These results demonstrate that Raman spectroscopy combined with multivariate analysis is a promising and reliable methodology for the fast characterization of genuine and counterfeit artesunate antimalarial tablets. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

McGready R, Kaveri SV, Lacroix-Desmazes S, Krudsood S, Newton PN. 2007. Acquired haemophilia A in early pregnancy associated with Plasmodium vivax malaria and hyperthyroidism. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, 47 (1), pp. 76-77. | Read more

Mayxay M, Barends M, Brockman A, Jaidee A, Nair S, Sudimack D, Pongvongsa T, Phompida S et al. 2007. In vitro antimalarial drug susceptibility and pfcrt mutation among fresh Plasmodium falciparum isolates from the Lao PDR (Laos). Am J Trop Med Hyg, 76 (2), pp. 245-250. | Show Abstract

Recent drug trials in Laos have shown high levels of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to chloroquine, but there are no published data on in vitro antimalarial drug susceptibility. We used the double-site enzyme-linked pLDH immunodetection (DELI) assay to estimate the in vitro antimalarial drug susceptibility of 108 fresh P. falciparum isolates from southern Laos. The geometric mean (95% confidence interval) 50% inhibitory concentration values (nmol/L) were 152.4 (123.8-187.6) for chloroquine, 679.8 (533.8-863.0) for quinine, 45.9 (37.9-55.7) for mefloquine, 5.0 (4.4-6.4) for artesunate, 6.3 (4.5-8.9) for dihydroartemisinin, and 59.1 (46.4-75.3) for lumefantrine. The proportion of isolates defined as resistant were 65%, 40%, and 8% for chloroquine, quinine, and mefloquine, respectively. Of 53 isolates genotyped for the pfcrt T76K chloroquine-resistance mutation, 48 (91%) were mutants. P. falciparum in Laos is multi-drug resistant; antimalarial immunity resulting from the use of ineffective chloroquine before 2005 probably contributes significantly to the therapeutic responses in clinical trials.

Green MD, Nettey H, Villalva Rojas O, Pamanivong C, Khounsaknalath L, Grande Ortiz M, Newton PN, Fernández FM, Vongsack L, Manolin O. 2007. Use of refractometry and colorimetry as field methods to rapidly assess antimalarial drug quality. J Pharm Biomed Anal, 43 (1), pp. 105-110. | Show Abstract | Read more

The proliferation of counterfeit and poor-quality drugs is a major public health problem; especially in developing countries lacking adequate resources to effectively monitor their prevalence. Simple and affordable field methods provide a practical means of rapidly monitoring drug quality in circumstances where more advanced techniques are not available. Therefore, we have evaluated refractometry, colorimetry and a technique combining both processes as simple and accurate field assays to rapidly test the quality of the commonly available antimalarial drugs; artesunate, chloroquine, quinine, and sulfadoxine. Method bias, sensitivity, specificity and accuracy relative to high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) analysis of drugs collected in the Lao PDR were assessed for each technique. The HPLC method for each drug was evaluated in terms of assay variability and accuracy. The accuracy of the combined method ranged from 0.96 to 1.00 for artesunate tablets, chloroquine injectables, quinine capsules, and sulfadoxine tablets while the accuracy was 0.78 for enterically coated chloroquine tablets. These techniques provide a generally accurate, yet simple and affordable means to assess drug quality in resource-poor settings.

Ricci C, Nyadong L, Fernandez FM, Newton PN, Kazarian SG. 2007. Combined Fourier-transform infrared imaging and desorption electrospray-ionization linear ion-trap mass spectrometry for analysis of counterfeit antimalarial tablets. Anal Bioanal Chem, 387 (2), pp. 551-559. | Show Abstract | Read more

This paper reports use of a combination of Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopic imaging and desorption electrospray ionization linear ion-trap mass spectrometry (DESI MS) for characterization of counterfeit pharmaceutical tablets. The counterfeit artesunate antimalarial tablets were analyzed by both techniques. The results obtained revealed the ability of FTIR imaging in non-destructive micro-attenuated total reflection (ATR) mode to detect the distribution of all components in the tablet, the identities of which were confirmed by DESI MS. Chemical images of the tablets were obtained with high spatial resolution. The FTIR spectroscopic imaging method affords inherent chemical specificity with rapid acquisition of data. DESI MS enables high-sensitivity detection of trace organic compounds. Combination of these two orthogonal surface-characterization methods has great potential for detection and analysis of counterfeit tablets in the open air and without sample preparation.

Green MD, Nettey H, Rojas OV, Pamanivong C, Khounsaknalath L, Ortiz MG, Newton PN, Fernández FM, Vongsack L, Manolin O. 2007. Corrigendum to “Use of refractometry and colorimetry as field methods to rapidly assess antimalarial drug quality” [J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 43 (2007) 105–110] Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 43 (5), pp. 1890-1890. | Read more

Slesak G, Phanthavong P, Rasphone O, Luangxay K, Anoulakkham P, Pahatsalang V, Soumphonphakdy B, White JA, Newton PN. 2007. Obstructive biliary ascariasis with cholangitis and hepatic abscesses in Laos: a case report with gall bladder ultrasound video. J Infect, 54 (4), pp. e233-e235. | Show Abstract | Read more

A 12-year-old Lao boy with obstructive biliary Ascaris infection is described and video of the gallbladder ultrasound presented. The patient developed severe complications of obstructive cholangitis, a large right pleural effusion and hepatic abscesses requiring prolonged antibiotic therapy. The differential diagnosis of worms in the gall-bladder is discussed.

Mayxay M, Khomthilat T, Souvannasing P, Phounesavath K, Vorasane B, Keomany S, Douangdala P, Philavong K, Srour L, Newton PN. 2007. Factors associated with a measles outbreak in children admitted at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos. BMC Public Health, 7 (1), pp. 193. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In 2002 and 2003 there were large outbreaks of measles in many provinces of Laos, including in Vientiane. We therefore conducted a study to determine risk factors associated with measles amongst children admitted at Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane. METHODS: A retrospective case-control study was conducted in 50 children with clinical measles who were matched by age and sex with 50 healthy children (who had never had a febrile rash) living in the same villages as the cases. RESULTS: The proportion of children with complete immunizations was significantly lower in the group with clinical measles compared to the controls [13/50 (26%) vs 34/50 (68%), P < 0.001). The percentage of children who had received measles vaccine at 9-23 months of age was significantly lower in the group with clinical measles compared to the healthy controls [12/50 (24%) vs 24/50 (48%), P = 0.01). The family educational and socio-economic status did not differ significantly (P > 0.05) between cases and controls. CONCLUSION: These results emphasize the importance of intensification of measles immunization coverage in Laos. The strengthening of campaigns with large, widespread high second dose coverage is likely to be a key measure to prevent further measles outbreaks in Laos (192 words).

Newton PN, Barnes KI, Smith PJ, Evans AC, Chierakul W, Ruangveerayuth R, White NJ. 2006. The pharmacokinetics of intravenous artesunate in adults with severe falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 62 (12), pp. 1003-1009. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Intravenous artesunate is commonly used in the emergency treatment of patients with severe falciparum malaria in Asia. The choice of doses used has been empirical. To inform dosage recommendations we assessed the pharmacokinetics of intravenous artesunate after the first dose. METHODS: As part of a clinical trial of artesunate in adults with severe falciparum malaria in western Thailand, we assayed plasma concentrations of artesunate and the principal biologically active metabolite dihydroartemisinin (DHA) in 17 patients given an initial dose of 2.4 mg/kg body weight of intravenous artesunate. Drug levels were measured using high performance liquid chromatography with mass spectroscopy-electrospray ionisation detection. RESULTS: Median (range) observed DHA Cmax was 2128 (513-5789) nmol/L, elimination half-life was 0.34 (0.14-0.87) h, and the time to the last detectable DHA was 2 h. CONCLUSION: The large inter-individual variability (10 fold) in DHA Cmax and AUC in patients with potentially lethal, severe malaria, suggests that 2.4 mg/kg should be the minimum daily dose in severe malaria.

Sayasone S, Odermatt P, Vongphrachanh P, Keoluangkot V, Dupouy-Camet J, Newton PN, Strobel M. 2006. A trichinellosis outbreak in Borikhamxay Province, Lao PDR. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 100 (12), pp. 1126-1129. | Show Abstract | Read more

Trichinellosis is documented in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and China. Data from Lao PDR are lacking. An outbreak investigation was conducted in Borikhamxay Province after three patients with suspected trichinellosis consulted the Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane. In total, 22 trichinellosis cases were identified; 21 cases could be confirmed by Western blot. High fever (100%), muscle pain (91%), upper eyelid oedema (86%) and diarrhoea (59%) were observed. Among the 22 patients, 86% had consumed pork meat from the same source. This is the first report of an outbreak investigation in Lao PDR since 1975. It shows that the incidence of trichinellosis is much higher than currently thought.

Phetsouvanh R, Phongmany S, Soukaloun D, Rasachak B, Soukhaseum V, Soukhaseum S, Frichithavong K, Khounnorath S et al. 2006. Causes of community-acquired bacteremia and patterns of antimicrobial resistance in Vientiane, Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 75 (5), pp. 978-985. | Show Abstract

There is no published information on the causes of bacteremia in the Lao PDR (Laos). Between 2000 and 2004, 4512 blood culture pairs were taken from patients admitted to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos, with suspected community-acquired bacteremia; 483 (10.7%) cultures grew a clinically significant community-acquired organism, most commonly Salmonella enterica serovar typhi (50.9%), Staphylococcus aureus (19.0%), and Escherichia coli (12.4%). S. aureus bacteremia was common among infants (69.2%), while children 1-5 years had a high frequency of typhoid (44%). Multi-drug-resistant S. Typhi was rare (6%). On multiple logistic regression analysis, typhoid was associated with younger age, longer illness, diarrhea, higher admission temperature, and lower peripheral white blood cell count than non-typhoidal bacteremia. Empirical parenteral ampicillin and gentamicin would have some activity against approximately 88% of clinically significant isolates at a cost of US $1.4/day, an important exception being B. pseudomallei. Bacteremic infants in this setting require an anti-staphylococcal antibiotic.

Hall KA, Newton PN, Green MD, De Veij M, Vandenabeele P, Pizzanelli D, Mayxay M, Dondorp A, Fernandez FM. 2006. Characterization of counterfeit artesunate antimalarial tablets from southeast Asia. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 75 (5), pp. 804-811. | Show Abstract

In southeast Asia, the widespread high prevalence of counterfeits tablets of the vital antimalarial artesunate is of great public health concern. To assess the seriousness of this problem, we quantified the amount of active ingredient present in artesunate tablets by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. This method, in conjunction with analysis of the packaging, classified tablets as genuine, substandard, or fake and validated results of the colorimetric Fast Red TR test. Eight (35%) of 23 fake artesunate samples contained the wrong active ingredients, which were identified as different erythromycins and paracetamol. Raman spectroscopy identified calcium carbonate as an excipient in 9 (39%) of 23 fake samples. Multivariate unsupervised pattern recognition results indicated two major clusters of artesunate counterfeits, those with counterfeit foil stickers and containing calcium carbonate, erythromycin, and paracetamol, and those with counterfeit holograms and containing starch but without evidence of erythromycin or paracetamol.

Blacksell SD, Khounsy S, Phetsouvanh R, Newton PN. 2006. A simple and inexpensive container for the transport of biological specimens in limited resource situations. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 100 (11), pp. 1084-1086. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe a diagnostic specimen transport container that is appropriate for limited resource or emergency settings. The transport container is constructed from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plumbing pipe, which is readily available and inexpensive (US$1-2, depending on size) and has wide flexibility of size due to the range of PVC pipe dimensions available. The PVC transporters are durable, water-resistant and may be easily decontaminated. They have been adapted for the transport of blood culture bottles from provincial hospitals in Laos, where, during a 2-year period, 380 PVC tubes containing blood culture bottles were transported without any leakage or breakage. We have found the PVC transporter to be a useful and cost-efficient durable alternative that meets IATA Packing Instruction 650 biological transport container requirements.

Blacksell SD, Smythe L, Phetsouvanh R, Dohnt M, Hartskeerl R, Symonds M, Slack A, Vongsouvath M et al. 2006. Limited diagnostic capacities of two commercial assays for the detection of Leptospira immunoglobulin M antibodies in Laos. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 13 (10), pp. 1166-1169. | Show Abstract | Read more

The diagnostic utility of immunochromatographic (Leptotek) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA; Panbio) tests for the detection of Leptospira immunoglobulin M antibodies was assessed in febrile adults admitted in Vientiane, Laos. Both tests demonstrated poor diagnostic accuracy using admission serum (Leptotek sensitivity of 47.3% and specificity of 75.5%: ELISA sensitivity of 60.9% and specificity of 65.6%) compared to the Leptospira "gold standard" microscopic agglutination test.

Newton PN, Green MD, Fernández FM, Day NP, White NJ. 2006. Counterfeit anti-infective drugs. Lancet Infect Dis, 6 (9), pp. 602-613. | Show Abstract | Read more

The production of counterfeit or substandard anti-infective drugs is a widespread and under-recognised problem that contributes to morbidity, mortality, and drug resistance, and leads to spurious reporting of resistance and toxicity and loss of confidence in health-care systems. Counterfeit drugs particularly affect the most disadvantaged people in poor countries. Although advances in forensic chemical analysis and simple field tests will enhance drug quality monitoring, improved access to inexpensive genuine medicines, support of drug regulatory authorities, more open reporting, vigorous law enforcement, and more international cooperation with determined political leadership will be essential to counter this threat.

Blacksell SD, Doust JA, Newton PN, Peacock SJ, Day NP, Dondorp AM. 2006. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the diagnostic accuracy of rapid immunochromatographic assays for the detection of dengue virus IgM antibodies during acute infection. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 100 (8), pp. 775-784. | Show Abstract | Read more

A meta-analysis of rapid (</=60 min) dengue diagnostic assays was conducted to determine accuracy and identify causes of between-study heterogeneity. A systematic review identified 302 potentially suitable studies, of which 11 were selected for meta-analysis. All selected studies evaluated the immunochromatographic test (ICT) manufactured by Panbio Pty Ltd. Individual study results for sensitivity ranged from 0.45 to 1.0, specificity 0.57-1.0, diagnostic odds ratio 4.5-1287, and positive:negative likelihood ratios 2.3-59 and 0.01-0.56, respectively. Results indicated that the ICT evaluated in the selected studies can both rule in and rule out disease but is more accurate when samples are collected later in the acute phase of infection. Limitations of this meta-analysis were significant between-study heterogeneity caused by inconsistencies in evaluation methodologies, and the evaluation of only the Panbio ICT. It is recommended that additional, standardized evaluations are required for other dengue ICTs.

Mayxay M, Thongpraseuth V, Khanthavong M, Lindegårdh N, Barends M, Keola S, Pongvongsa T, Phompida S et al. 2006. An open, randomized comparison of artesunate plus mefloquine vs. dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos). Trop Med Int Health, 11 (8), pp. 1157-1165. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy and safety of oral dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP, Artekin) in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in southern Laos. METHODS: An open, randomized clinical trial of oral artesunate-mefloquine (AM) vs. DP in 220 patients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Savannakhet Province, Laos. RESULTS: The 42-day cure rates (95% CI), as determined by survival analysis and adjusted for reinfection, were excellent and similar for the two groups [99 (94-100)% and 100 (100-100)% for AM and DP, respectively]. The median (range) fever and parasite clearance times for the AM and DP groups were also similar [20 (4-63) h and 2 (1-4) days vs. 20 (7-57) and 2 (1-4) days, logrank P = 0.4 and 0.17, respectively]. There were more patients with at least one potential side effect following treatment in the AM group when compared with the DP group [64/110 (58%) vs. 48/110 (44%), respectively, P = 0.031]. CONCLUSION: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine did not have superior efficacy to AM for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Laos but was associated with fewer adverse effects.

Blacksell SD, Newton PN, Bell D, Kelley J, Mammen MP, Vaughn DW, Wuthiekanun V, Sungkakum A, Nisalak A, Day NP. 2006. The comparative accuracy of 8 commercial rapid immunochromatographic assays for the diagnosis of acute dengue virus infection. Clin Infect Dis, 42 (8), pp. 1127-1134. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The serological diagnosis of acute dengue virus infection relies on the detection of dengue-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies. Immunochromatographic tests are rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) that can be performed at the bedside, but they have not been fully validated for diagnosis of dengue infection. METHODS: More than 20 RDTs for diagnosis of acute dengue infection are commercially available. Of these, 8 were selected for evaluation of performance by use of characterized dengue and nondengue serum specimens, and results were compared with those of a previously published dengue IgM/IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in conjunction with dengue virus serotyping by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: Assay sensitivities were low, ranging from 6.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.0%-9.7%) to 65.3% (95% CI, 59.9%-70.5%), and specificities ranged from 69.1% (95% CI, 61.4%-76.0%) to 100% (95% CI, 97.8%-100%). Of the 8 tests, only 2 had sensitivities of >50%, the level considered to be clinically useful, and, of these, 1 had relatively low specificity (69.1%). Samples collected early in the infection were less likely to test positive than those collected later. A thermal stability study demonstrated a loss in performance of some RDTs when they were stored at a high ambient temperature for 3 months. CONCLUSIONS: Users of RDTs for dengue should be aware that many of these tests have a diagnostic accuracy that falls well below the manufacturers' claims. If an acute specimen yields a negative result, a convalescent serum sample should be tested to confirm the result. No RDT adequately differentiated primary and secondary dengue infections, and the tests should not be used for this purpose.

Phongmany S, Rolain JM, Phetsouvanh R, Blacksell SD, Soukkhaseum V, Rasachack B, Phiasakha K, Soukkhaseum S et al. 2006. Rickettsial infections and fever, Vientiane, Laos. Emerg Infect Dis, 12 (2), pp. 256-262. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rickettsial diseases have not been described previously from Laos, but in a prospective study, acute rickettsial infection was identified as the cause of fever in 115 (27%) of 427 adults with negative blood cultures admitted to Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, Laos. The organisms identified by serologic analysis were Orientia tsutsugamushi (14.8%), Rickettsia typhi (9.6%), and spotted fever group rickettsia (2.6% [8 R. helvetica, 1 R. felis, 1 R. conorii subsp. indica, and 1 Rickettsia "AT1"]). Patients with murine typhus had a lower frequency of peripheral lymphadenopathy than those with scrub typhus (3% vs. 46%, p<0.001). Rickettsioses are an underrecognized cause of undifferentiated febrile illnesses among adults in Laos. This finding has implications for the local empiric treatment of fever.

Newton PN, Ward S, Angus BJ, Chierakul W, Dondorp A, Ruangveerayuth R, Silamut K, Teerapong P, Suputtamongkol Y, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2006. Early treatment failure in severe malaria resulting from abnormally low plasma quinine concentrations. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 100 (2), pp. 184-186. | Show Abstract | Read more

A patient admitted with severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria in western Thailand had an early treatment failure with quinine, despite full dosing. Plasma quinine concentrations were subtherapeutic. Abnormal quinine pharmacokinetics may explain sporadic reports of quinine treatment failures in severe malaria.

Newton PN, McGready R, Fernandez F, Green MD, Sunjio M, Bruneton C, Phanouvong S, Millet P et al. 2006. Manslaughter by fake artesunate in Asia--will Africa be next? PLoS Med, 3 (6), pp. e197. | Read more

Fernández FM, Cody RB, Green MD, Hampton CY, McGready R, Sengaloundeth S, White NJ, Newton PN. 2006. Characterization of solid counterfeit drug samples by desorption electrospray ionization and direct-analysis-in-real-time coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry. ChemMedChem, 1 (7), pp. 702-705. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vacuum is not the limit: direct analysis in real time (DART), a new MS ionization method, allows probing of pharmaceuticals under atmospheric pressure, thus bypassing lengthy sample preparation steps and enhancing throughput. DART allows rapid screening of solid drugs at almost constant temperature which decreases errors in mass measurement and improves the identification of potentially harmful unknowns. This is important for identifying counterfeit drugs (fake hologram shown). © 2006 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.

Anderson TJ, Nair S, Sudimack D, Williams JT, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Guthmann JP, Smithuis FM et al. 2005. Geographical distribution of selected and putatively neutral SNPs in Southeast Asian malaria parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 22 (12), pp. 2362-2374. | Show Abstract | Read more

Loci targeted by directional selection are expected to show elevated geographical population structure relative to neutral loci, and a flurry of recent papers have used this rationale to search for genome regions involved in adaptation. Studies of functional mutations that are known to be under selection are particularly useful for assessing the utility of this approach. Antimalarial drug treatment regimes vary considerably between countries in Southeast Asia selecting for local adaptation at parasite loci underlying resistance. We compared the population structure revealed by 10 nonsynonymous mutations (nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms [nsSNPs]) in four loci that are known to be involved in antimalarial drug resistance, with patterns revealed by 10 synonymous mutations (synonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms [sSNPs]) in housekeeping genes or genes of unknown function in 755 Plasmodium falciparum infections collected from 13 populations in six Southeast Asian countries. Allele frequencies at known nsSNPs underlying resistance varied markedly between locations (F(ST) = 0.18-0.66), with the highest frequencies on the Thailand-Burma border and the lowest frequencies in neighboring Lao PDR. In contrast, we found weak but significant geographic structure (F(ST) = 0-0.14) for 8 of 10 sSNPs. Importantly, all 10 nsSNPs showed significantly higher F(ST) (P < 8 x 10(-5)) than simulated neutral expectations based on observed F(ST) values in the putatively neutral sSNPs. This result was unaffected by the methods used to estimate allele frequencies or the number of populations used in the simulations. Given that dense single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) maps and rapid SNP assay methods are now available for P. falciparum, comparing genetic differentiation across the genome may provide a valuable aid to identifying parasite loci underlying local adaptation to drug treatment regimes or other selective forces. However, the high proportion of polymorphic sites that appear to be under balancing selection (or linked to selected sites) in the P. falciparum genome violates the central assumption that selected sites are rare, which complicates identification of outlier loci, and suggests that caution is needed when using this approach.

Newton PN, Day NP, White NJ. 2005. Misattribution of central nervous system dysfunction to artesunate. Clin Infect Dis, 41 (11), pp. 1687-1688. | Read more

Green MD, Vongsack L, Manolin O, Sengaloundeth S, Khounsaknalath L, Pamanivong C, Rojas OV, Newton PN. 2005. Use of a refractometer to assess the quality of antimalarial drugs collected in the Lao Pdr AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AND HYGIENE, 73 (6), pp. 346-346.

Chierakul W, Anunnatsiri S, Short JM, Maharjan B, Mootsikapun P, Simpson AJ, Limmathurotsakul D, Cheng AC et al. 2005. Two randomized controlled trials of ceftazidime alone versus ceftazidime in combination with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for the treatment of severe melioidosis. Clin Infect Dis, 41 (8), pp. 1105-1113. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Two antibiotic regimens are used commonly in Thailand for the initial treatment of severe melioidosis: ceftazidime in combination with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) and ceftazidime monotherapy. It is not known whether TMP-SMX provides an additional benefit. METHODS: Two prospective, randomized trials that compared these regimens for patients presenting with acute severe melioidosis were started independently at tertiary care hospitals in Ubon Ratchathani and Khon Kaen (in northeastern Thailand), and the results were analyzed together as a prospective, individual-patient data meta-analysis. The primary end point was in-hospital mortality rate. RESULTS: The in-hospital mortality rate among all enrolled patients (n=449) was not significantly different between those randomized to ceftazidime alone (25.1%; 56 of 223 subjects) and those randomized to ceftazidime with TMP-SMX (26.6%; 60 of 226 subjects; odds ratio [OR], 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7-1.7; stratified P=.73). Of the 241 patients with culture-confirmed melioidosis, 51 (21.2%) died. Of these 241 patients, 31 (12.9%) died > or =48 h after the time of study entry. Among patients with melioidosis, there was no difference in death rate between the 2 treatment groups for either all deaths (OR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.48-1.6; stratified P=.70) or for deaths that occurred > or =48 h after hospital admission (OR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.41-1.9; stratified P=.73). Conditional logistic regression analysis revealed that bacteremia, respiratory failure, and renal failure were independently associated with death and treatment failure. Drug regimens were not associated with death or treatment failure in this model. CONCLUSION: We conclude that the addition of TMP-SMX to ceftazidime therapy during initial treatment of severe melioidosis does not reduce the acute mortality rate.

Chaowagul W, Chierakul W, Simpson AJ, Short JM, Stepniewska K, Maharjan B, Rajchanuvong A, Busarawong D et al. 2005. Open-label randomized trial of oral trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline, and chloramphenicol compared with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and doxycycline for maintenance therapy of melioidosis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 49 (10), pp. 4020-4025. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis (infection caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei) requires a prolonged course of oral antibiotics following initial intravenous therapy to reduce the risk of relapse after cessation of treatment. The current recommendation is a four-drug regimen (trimethoprim [TMP], sulfamethoxazole [SMX], doxycycline, and chloramphenicol) and a total treatment time of 12 to 20 weeks. Drug side effects are common; the aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and tolerance of the four-drug regimen with a three-drug regimen (TMP-SMX and doxycycline). An open-label, randomized trial was conducted in northeast Thailand. A total of 180 adult Thai patients were enrolled, of which 91 were allocated to the four-drug regimen and 89 to the three-drug regimen. The trial was terminated early due to poor drug tolerance, particularly of the four-drug regimen. The culture-confirmed relapse rates at 1 year were 6.6% and 5.6% for the four- and three-drug regimens, respectively (P = 0.79). The three-drug regimen was better tolerated than the four-drug regimen; 36% of patients receiving four drugs and 19% of patients receiving three drugs required a switch in therapy due to side effects (P = 0.01). The duration of oral therapy was significantly associated with relapse; after adjustment for confounders, patients receiving less than 12 weeks of oral therapy had a 5.7-fold increase of relapse or death. A combination of TMP-SMX and doxycycline is as effective as and better tolerated than the conventional four-drug regimen for the oral treatment phase of melioidosis.

Newton PN, Chung WH, Phetsouvanh R, White NJ. 2005. Sporotrichosis, Plain of Jars, Lao People's Democratic Republic. Emerg Infect Dis, 11 (9), pp. 1496-1497. | Read more

Dondorp AM, Desakorn V, Pongtavornpinyo W, Sahassananda D, Silamut K, Chotivanich K, Newton PN, Pitisuttithum P, Smithyman AM, White NJ, Day NP. 2005. Estimation of the total parasite biomass in acute falciparum malaria from plasma PfHRP2. PLoS Med, 2 (8), pp. e204. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In falciparum malaria sequestration of erythrocytes containing mature forms of Plasmodium falciparum in the microvasculature of vital organs is central to pathology, but quantitation of this hidden sequestered parasite load in vivo has not previously been possible. The peripheral blood parasite count measures only the circulating, relatively non-pathogenic parasite numbers. P. falciparum releases a specific histidine-rich protein (PfHRP2) into plasma. Quantitative measurement of plasma PfHRP2 concentrations may reflect the total parasite biomass in falciparum malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We measured plasma concentrations of PfHRP2, using a quantitative antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, in 337 adult patients with falciparum malaria of varying severity hospitalised on the Thai-Burmese border. Based on in vitro production rates, we constructed a model to link this measure to the total parasite burden in the patient. The estimated geometric mean parasite burden was 7 x 10(11) (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.8 x 10(11) to 8.5 x 10(11)) parasites per body, and was over six times higher in severe malaria (geometric mean 1.7 x 10(12), 95% CI 1.3 x 10(12) to 2.3 x 10(12)) than in patients hospitalised without signs of severity (geometric mean 2.8 x 10(11), 95% CI 2.3 x 10(11) to 3.5 x 10(11); p < 0.001). Parasite burden was highest in patients who died (geometric mean 3.4 x 10(12), 95% CI 1.9 x 10(12) to 6.3 x 10(12); p = 0.03). The calculated number of sequestered parasites increased with disease severity and was higher in patients with late developmental stages of P. falciparum present on peripheral blood smears. Comparing model and laboratory estimates of the time of sequestration suggested that admission to hospital with uncomplicated malaria often follows schizogony-but in severe malaria is unrelated to stage of parasite development. CONCLUSION: Plasma PfHRP2 concentrations may be used to estimate the total body parasite biomass in acute falciparum malaria. Severe malaria results from extensive sequestration of parasitised erythrocytes.

Nash D, Nair S, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Guthmann JP, Nosten F, Anderson TJ. 2005. Selection strength and hitchhiking around two anti-malarial resistance genes. Proc Biol Sci, 272 (1568), pp. 1153-1161. | Show Abstract | Read more

Neutral mutations may hitchhike to high frequency when they are situated close to sites under positive selection, generating local reductions in genetic diversity. This process is thought to be an important determinant of levels of genomic variation in natural populations. The size of genome regions affected by genetic hitchhiking is expected to be dependent on the strength of selection, but there is little empirical data supporting this prediction. Here, we compare microsatellite variation around two drug resistance genes (chloroquine resistance transporter (pfcrt), chromosome 7, and dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr), chromosome 4) in malaria parasite populations exposed to strong (Thailand) or weak selection (Laos) by anti-malarial drugs. In each population, we examined the point mutations underlying resistance and length variation at 22 (chromosome 4) or 25 (chromosome 7) microsatellite markers across these chromosomes. All parasites from Thailand carried the K76T mutation in pfcrt conferring resistance to chloroquine (CQ) and 2-4 mutations in dhfr conferring resistance to pyrimethamine. By contrast, we found both wild-type and resistant alleles at both genes in Laos. There were dramatic differences in the extent of hitchhiking in the two countries. The size of genome regions affected was smaller in Laos than in Thailand. We observed significant reduction in variation relative to sensitive parasites for 34-64 kb (2-4 cM) in Laos on chromosome 4, compared with 98-137 kb (6-8 cM) in Thailand. Similarly, on chromosome 7, we observed reduced variation for 34-69 kb (2-4 cM) around pfcrt in Laos, but for 195-268 kb (11-16 cM) in Thailand. Reduction in genetic variation was also less extreme in Laos than in Thailand. Most loci were monomorphic in a 12 kb region surrounding both genes on resistant chromosomes from Thailand, whereas in Laos, even loci immediately proximal to selective sites showed some variation on resistant chromosomes. Finally, linkage disequilibrium (LD) decayed more rapidly around resistant pfcrt and dhfr alleles from Laos than from Thailand. These results demonstrate that different realizations of the same selective sweeps may vary considerably in size and shape, in a manner broadly consistent with selection history. From a practical perspective, genomic regions containing resistance genes may be most effectively located by genome-wide association in populations exposed to strong drug selection. However, the lower levels of LD surrounding resistance alleles in populations under weak selection may simplify identification of functional mutations.

Phongmany S, Phetsouvanh R, Sisouphone S, Darasavath C, Vongphachane P, Rattanavong O, Mayxay M, Ramsay AC et al. 2005. A randomized comparison of oral chloramphenicol versus ofloxacin in the treatment of uncomplicated typhoid fever in Laos. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 99 (6), pp. 451-458. | Show Abstract | Read more

We conducted a randomized open trial of oral chloramphenicol (50mg/kg/day in four divided doses for 14 days) versus ofloxacin (15 mg/kg/day in two divided doses for 3 days) in 50 adults with culture-confirmed uncomplicated typhoid fever in Vientiane, Laos. Patients had been ill for a median (range) of 8 (2-30) days. All Salmonella enterica serotype typhi isolates were nalidixic acid-sensitive, four (8%) were chloramphenicol-resistant and three (6%) were multidrug-resistant. Median (range) fever clearance times were 90 (24-224) hours in the chloramphenicol group and 54 (6-93) hours in the ofloxacin group (P<0.001). One patient in the chloramphenicol group developed an ileal perforation. Three days ofloxacin was more effective than 14 days chloramphenicol for the in-patient treatment of typhoid fever, irrespective of antibiotic susceptibility, and was of similar cost.

Newton PN, Chaulet JF, Brockman A, Chierakul W, Dondorp A, Ruangveerayuth R, Looareesuwan S, Mounier C, White NJ. 2005. Pharmacokinetics of oral doxycycline during combination treatment of severe falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 49 (4), pp. 1622-1625. | Show Abstract | Read more

The pharmacokinetics of oral doxycycline administered at 200 mg every 24 h were investigated in 17 patients recovering from severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The data suggest that the doses of doxycycline currently recommended (circa 3.5 mg/kg of body weight daily) may not be optimal.

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Cockburn R, Newton PN, Agyarko EK, Akunyili D, White NJ. 2005. The global threat of counterfeit drugs: Why industry and governments must communicate the dangers PLOS MEDICINE, 2 (4), pp. 302-308. | Read more

Dondorp AM, Newton PN, Mayxay M, Van Damme W, Smithuis FM, Yeung S, Petit A, Lynam AJ et al. 2004. Fake antimalarials in Southeast Asia are a major impediment to malaria control: multinational cross-sectional survey on the prevalence of fake antimalarials. Trop Med Int Health, 9 (12), pp. 1241-1246. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of counterfeit antimalarial drugs in Southeast (SE) Asia. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Pharmacies and shops selling antimalarial drugs in Myanmar (Burma), Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportion of artemisinin derivatives or mefloquine containing drugs of substandard quality. RESULTS: Of the 188 tablet packs purchased which were labelled as 'artesunate' 53% did not contain any artesunate. All counterfeit artesunate tablets were labelled as manufactured by 'Guilin Pharma', and refinements of the fake blisterpacks made them often hard to distinguish from their genuine counterparts. No other artemisinin derivatives were found to be counterfeited. Of the 44 mefloquine samples, 9% contained <10% of the expected amount of active ingredient. CONCLUSIONS: An alarmingly high proportion of antimalarial drugs bought in pharmacies and shops in mainland SE Asia are counterfeit, and the problem has increased significantly compared with our previous survey in 1999-2000. This is a serious threat to public health in the region.

Mayxay M, Khanthavong M, Lindegårdh N, Keola S, Barends M, Pongvongsa T, Yapom R, Annerberg A et al. 2004. Randomized comparison of chloroquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine versus artesunate plus mefloquine versus artemether-lumefantrine in the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Clin Infect Dis, 39 (8), pp. 1139-1147. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Recent clinical trials in the Lao People's Democratic Republic have demonstrated that chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, which are national malaria treatment policy, are no longer effective in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. METHODS: A randomized comparison of 3 oral antimalarial combinations--chloroquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine versus artesunate plus mefloquine versus artemether-lumefantrine--with 42-day follow-up period, was conducted among 330 patients with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria in southern Laos. RESULTS: The 42-day cure rates, as determined by intention-to-treat analysis and adjusted for reinfection, were 100%, 97%, and 93% for the groups receiving artesunate plus mefloquine, artemether-lumefantrine, and chloroquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, respectively. Of 8 patients receiving chloroquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine who experienced treatment failure, 6 had early treatment failure. The mean parasite clearance time was significantly longer in patients treated with chloroquine plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (2.9 days; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.8-3.0 days) than in those treated with artesunate plus mefloquine (2.07 days; 95% CI, 2.0-2.1 days; P<.001) and artemether-lumefantrine (2.08 days; 95% CI, 2.0-2.1 days; P<.001). Cure rates with artemether-lumefantrine were high despite low mean daily dietary fat intake (13.8 g; 95% CI, 12.5-15.1 g) and day 7 plasma lumefantrine concentrations (0.47 mu g/mL; 95% CI, 0.38-0.56 mu g/mL). CONCLUSION: Oral artesunate plus mefloquine and artemether-lumefantrine are highly effective for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Laos.

Mayxay M, Pukrittayakamee S, Newton PN, White NJ. 2004. Mixed-species malaria infections in humans. Trends Parasitol, 20 (5), pp. 233-240. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mixed-species malaria infections are often not recognized or underestimated. In Asia, surveys usually report that <2% of infections are mixed, whereas therapeutic studies in vivax or falciparum malaria have demonstrated a high prevalence (up to 30%) of infection with the other malaria species during convalescence, suggesting covert co-infection. In epidemiological studies, a high prevalence of cryptic mixed-malaria species infection has been detected by sensitive PCR techniques. Concurrently infecting malaria species are mutually suppressive with Plasmodium falciparum tending to dominate Plasmodium vivax, but P. vivax attenuating the severity of P. falciparum. There is evidence for some cross-species immunity. These interactions have important clinical and public health implications.

Mayxay M, Newton PN, Khanthavong M, Tiengkham P, Phetsouvanh R, Phompida S, Brockman A, White NJ. 2004. Monitoring antimalarial drug efficacy - Reply CLINICAL INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 38 (8), pp. 1193-1194. | Read more

Chotivanich K, Udomsangpetch R, Chierakul W, Newton PN, Ruangveerayuth R, Pukrittayakamee S, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2004. In vitro efficacy of antimalarial drugs against Plasmodium vivax on the western border of Thailand. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 70 (4), pp. 395-397. | Show Abstract

The susceptibility of 20 isolates of Plasmodium vivax on the Thailand-Myanmar border to seven antimalarial drugs was evaluated using the schizont maturation inhibition technique. The geometric mean 50% inhibition concentration (IC(50)) values were quinine = 308 ng/mL, amodiaquine =14 ng/mL, chloroquine =50 ng/mL, mefloquine = 127 ng/mL, sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (80:1) = 800/10 ng/mL, pyrimethamine = 8 ng/mL, and artesunate = 0.5 ng/mL. Compared with P. falciparum in this area, P. vivax was more sensitive to chloroquine and artesunate, equally sensitive to quinine, and more resistant to mefloquine.

Chotivanich K, Sritabal J, Udomsangpetch R, Newton P, Stepniewska KA, Ruangveerayuth R, Looareesuwan S, Roberts DJ, White NJ. 2004. Platelet-induced autoagglutination of Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells and disease severity in Thailand. J Infect Dis, 189 (6), pp. 1052-1055. | Show Abstract | Read more

The relationship of the platelet-mediated autoagglutination of Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells (IRBCs) to disease severity was investigated in 182 Thai patients with falciparum malaria; it was evident in 43% of uncomplicated malaria (n=63), 41% of severe malaria (n=104), and 100% of cerebral malaria (n=15; P=.001) isolates. The median (range) number of IRBCs in agglutinates per 1000 IRBCs was significantly higher in cerebral malaria (6 [3-42]) than in severe (0 [0-52]) and uncomplicated (0 [0-24]) malaria (P=.01). In multivariate analyses, high parasitemia and cerebral malaria were associated independently with parasite agglutination.

Mayxay M, Newton PN, Yeung S, Pongvongsa T, Phompida S, Phetsouvanh R, White NJ. 2004. Short communication: An assessment of the use of malaria rapid tests by village health volunteers in rural Laos. Trop Med Int Health, 9 (3), pp. 325-329. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rapid malaria diagnosis, a key component of malaria control strategies, is hampered by the expense and training requirements of reliable microscopy. Rapid malaria antigen tests may improve the diagnosis of malaria in the rural tropics. After 1 h training 64 village health volunteers (VHVs) from rural Laos, with no previous laboratory experience, performed two malaria rapid diagnostic tests (ParacheckPf and OptiMAL) accurately. The reliability of six VHVs was assessed longitudinally, over 10 months with different frequencies of retraining. Compared with microscopy, error rates in dipstick interpretation were low (<2%) for both tests and were not associated with retraining frequency (P>0.2). Previously untrained Lao VHVs performed malaria rapid tests reliably with high sensitivity and specificity after minimal training.

Silamut K, Newton PN, Teja-Isavadharm P, Suputtamongkol Y, Siriyanonda D, Rasameesoraj M, Pukrittayakamee S, White NJ. 2003. Artemether bioavailability after oral or intramuscular administration in uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 47 (12), pp. 3795-3798. | Show Abstract | Read more

The antimalarial activity of artemether following oral or intramuscular administration in the plasma of 15 adults with acute uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria was measured by bioassay. The peak concentrations in plasma following oral administration were higher in patients with acute illness (median, 1,905 mmol of dihydroartemisinin [DHA] equivalents per liter; range, 955 to 3,358 mmol of DHA equivalents per liter) than in patients in the convalescent phase (median, 955 mmol of DHA equivalents per liter; range, 576 to 1,363 mmol of DHA equivalents per liter), and clearance (CL/F) was lower in patients in the acute phase (1.11 liters/kg/h; range, 0.21 to 3.08 liters/kg/h) than in patients in the convalescent phase (median, 2.76 liters/kg/h; range, 1.56 to 5.74 liters/kg/h) (P< or =0.008). Antimalarial activity in terms of the peak concentration in plasma (Cmax) after oral administration was a median of 16 times higher than that after intramuscular administration. The ratio of the area under the plasma concentration-time curve during the first 24 h (AUC(0-24)) after oral administration of artemether to the AUC(0-24) after intramuscular administration was a median of 3.3 (range, 1 to 11) (P=0.0001). In the acute phase, the time to Cmax was significantly shorter after oral administration (median, 1 h; range, 0.5 to 3.0 h) than after intramuscular administration (median, 8 h; range, 4 to 24 h) (P=0.001). Intramuscular artemether is absorbed very slowly in patients with acute malaria.

Mayxay M, Newton PN, Khanthavong M, Tiengkham P, Phetsouvanh R, Phompida S, Brockman A, White NJ. 2003. Chloroquine versus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Savannakhet Province, Lao People's Democratic Republic: an assessment of national antimalarial drug recommendations. Clin Infect Dis, 37 (8), pp. 1021-1028. | Show Abstract | Read more

The in vivo efficacies of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) nationally recommended antimalarial agents--chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine-were assessed in a randomized, comparative trial that involved 100 patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria who were followed for 42 days after starting treatment. Despite a shorter mean time to fever clearance associated with administration of chloroquine (mean time to clearance, 35.6 h; 95% confidence interval [CI], 26.3-45.0 h), compared with that associated with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (61.1 h; 95% CI, 50.9-71.3 h; P<.001), treatment failures were twice as frequent among patients receiving chloroquine therapy than among those receiving sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine therapy (36% vs. 18%; P=.02). Of 23 treatment failures, 10 (43%) were high grade. Treatment failure rates among children (age range, 5-15 years) were 4.9 times higher (95% CI, 2-12) than those among adults (P<.0001). Gametocytemia after antimalarial treatment was associated with receipt of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine therapy and with treatment failure (P=.009). The efficacy of both chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in Laos is unsatisfactory.

Nair S, Williams JT, Brockman A, Paiphun L, Mayxay M, Newton PN, Guthmann JP, Smithuis FM et al. 2003. A selective sweep driven by pyrimethamine treatment in southeast asian malaria parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 20 (9), pp. 1526-1536. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria parasites (Plasmodium falciparum) provide an excellent system in which to study the genomic effects of strong selection in a recombining eukaryote because the rapid spread of resistance to multiple drugs during the last the past 50 years has been well documented, the full genome sequence and a microsatellite map are now available, and haplotype data can be easily generated. We examined microsatellite variation around the dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr) gene on chromosome 4 of P. falciparum. Point mutations in dhfr are known to be responsible for resistance to the antimalarial drug pyrimethamine, and resistance to this drug has spread rapidly in Southeast (SE) Asia after its introduction in 1970s. We genotyped 33 microsatellite markers distributed across chromosome 4 in 61 parasites from a location on the Thailand/Myanmar border. We observed minimal microsatellite length variation in a 12-kb (0.7-cM) region flanking the dhfr gene and diminished variation for approximately 100 kb (6 cM), indicative of a single origin of resistant alleles. Furthermore, we found the same or similar microsatellite haplotypes flanked resistant dhfr alleles sampled from 11 parasite populations in five SE Asian countries indicating recent invasion of a single lineage of resistant dhfr alleles in locations 2000 km apart. Three features of these data are of especially interest. (1). Pyrimethamine resistance is generally assumed to have evolved multiple times because the genetic basis is simple and resistance can be selected easily in the laboratory. Yet our data clearly indicate a single origin of resistant dhfr alleles sampled over a large region of SE Asia. (2). The wide valley ( approximately 6 cM) of reduced variation around dhfr provides "proof-of-principle" that genome-wide association may be an effective way to locate genes under strong recent selection. (3). The width of the selective valley is consistent with predictions based on independent measures of recombination, mutation, and selection intensity, suggesting that we have reasonable estimates of these parameters. We conclude that scanning the malaria parasite genome for evidence of recent selection may prove an extremely effective way to locate genes underlying recently evolved traits such as drug resistance, as well as providing an opportunity to study the dynamics of selective events that have occurred recently or are currently in progress.

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Soukaloun D, Kounnavong S, Pengdy B, Boupha B, Durondej S, Olness K, Newton PN, White NJ. 2003. Dietary and socio-economic factors associated with beriberi in breastfed Lao infants ANNALS OF TROPICAL PAEDIATRICS, 23 (3), pp. 181-186. | Show Abstract | Read more

A case-control study was conducted to investigate the dietary and socio-economic factors associated with beriberi in infants attending three public hospitals in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Forty-three breast-feeding infants with a median (range) age of 3 (1-9) months were admitted with beriberi. This was defined as the presence of signs of congestive heart failure or shock in the absence of fever or other signs of sepsis, hypovolaemia or cardiac abnormalities, with rapid clinical improvement following parenteral thiamine. Subjects were matched by age and diet to 43 breast-feeding healthy control infants. Compared with control mothers, mothers of infants with beriberi had significantly less diet diversity (p < 0.001), soaked glutinous rice for significantly longer or were more likely to pour off excess water from non-glutinous rice (p = 0.006), had fewer years of schooling (p < 0.05), were more likely to report that income was inadequate for basic needs (p < 0.001), to perform hard physical labour (p < 0.01) and to be married to farmers (p < 0.01). Clinically significant thiamine deficiency in breastfed infants in Lao relates to methods of preparing rice, the food selected by lactating mothers and the family's socio-economic status.

Newton PN, Dondorp A, Green M, Mayxay M, White NJ. 2003. Counterfeit artesunate antimalarials in southeast Asia. Lancet, 362 (9378), pp. 169. | Read more

Newton PN, Angus BJ, Chierakul W, Dondorp A, Ruangveerayuth R, Silamut K, Teerapong P, Suputtamongkol Y, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2003. Randomized comparison of artesunate and quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 37 (1), pp. 7-16. | Show Abstract | Read more

A randomized, open-label comparison of artesunate and quinine was conducted in 113 adults with clinically severe falciparum malaria in western Thailand. Mortality was 12% with artesunate and 22% with quinine treatment (relative risk, 0.53; 95% confidence interval, 0.23-1.26; P=.22). Multiple logistic regression analysis found admission plasma lactate level, Glasgow Coma Scale score, and total serum bilirubin level to be independent risk factors for death. Coma recovery and times to normalize plasma lactate levels were similar, but the parasite clearance time was much shorter among artesunate-treated patients (P=.019). Fewer patients became hypoglycemic during artesunate therapy (10%) than during quinine therapy (28%) (P=.03). Artesunate is at least as effective as quinine in the treatment of adults with severe malaria. Larger trials are required to determine whether mortality is reduced among patients treated with artesunate.

Mayxay M, Phetsouvanh R, Phompida S, Newton PN, Khanthavong M, Vannachone B, Brockmans A, White NJ. 2003. A randomized comparison of oral chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Laos. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 97 (3), pp. 343-344. | Show Abstract | Read more

Between June and October 2000 we conducted the first randomized trial in Laos comparing chloroquine (CQ) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria (n = 29, 42-d follow-up, age > 5 years). The proportion of patients with treatment failure was high (CQ = 78%, RIII 46%; SP = 36%, RIII 15%). The treatment policy for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Laos needs to be reviewed urgently.

Simpson AJ, Newton PN, Chierakul W, Chaowagul W, White NJ. 2003. Diabetes mellitus, insulin, and melioidosis in Thailand. Clin Infect Dis, 36 (5), pp. e71-e72. | Show Abstract | Read more

A review of case records for 1817 Thai patients with melioidosis revealed that <10% of the 382 patients with diabetes mellitus were insulin dependent. This provides evidence against the hypothesis that insulin deficiency contributes to the known susceptibility to melioidosis in patients with diabetes mellitus.

Newton PN, Wakefield AE, Goldin R, Govan J. 2003. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia with pleurisy, platypnoea and orthodeoxia. Thorax, 58 (2), pp. 185-186. | Show Abstract | Read more

We present a patient who collapsed with chest pain and dyspnoea on a transatlantic flight. She was found to have Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) and human immunodeficiency virus infection. Platypnoea and orthodeoxia, which have not been previously reported in association with PCP, were major features of her illness. The PCP predominantly affected her lung bases and it is likely that gravity increased intrapulmonary blood flow through poorly ventilated lung bases with failure of pulmonary vasoconstriction to increase upper zone perfusion, exacerbating desaturation on sitting up. The partial DNA sequence of the infecting P carinii was identical to previously described isolates.

Newton PN, Chierakul W, Ruangveerayuth R, Abhigantaphand D, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2003. Malaria and amphetamine 'horse tablets' in Thailand. Trop Med Int Health, 8 (1), pp. 17-18. | Show Abstract | Read more

During recent clinical malaria research in Thailand we found a high frequency of amphetamine misuse and withdrawal amongst patients admitted to hospital with Plasmodium falciparum malaria. This comorbidity may cause diagnostic confusion, alter malaria pathophysiology and lead to drug interactions.

Newton PN, Thai LEH, Tip NQ, Short JM, Chierakul W, Rajanuwong A, Pitisuttithum P, Chasombat S et al. 2002. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of acetazolamide for the treatment of elevated intracranial pressure in cryptococcal meningitis. Clin Infect Dis, 35 (6), pp. 769-772. | Show Abstract | Read more

We conducted a trial of oral acetazolamide for the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis in 22 Thai adults with headache and an opening cerebrospinal fluid pressure of >/=200 mm H(2)0. The trial was terminated prematurely because patients who received acetazolamide developed significantly lower venous bicarbonate levels and higher chloride levels and had more-frequent serious adverse events than did subjects who received placebo.

Newton PN, Michelson G, Ruangveerayuth R, White NJ. 2002. Retinal haemorrhage in P falciparum malaria. Lancet, 360 (9332), pp. 515. | Read more

Chotivanich K, Udomsangpetch R, McGready R, Proux S, Newton P, Pukrittayakamee S, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2002. Central role of the spleen in malaria parasite clearance. J Infect Dis, 185 (10), pp. 1538-1541. | Show Abstract | Read more

In acute malaria, red blood cells (RBCs) that have been parasitized, but no longer contain a malaria parasite, are found in the circulation (ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen [RESA]-RBCs). These are thought to arise by splenic removal of dead or damaged intraerythrocytic parasites and return of the intact RBCs to the circulation. In a study of 5 patients with acute falciparum malaria who had previously undergone splenectomy, it was found that none of these 5 patients had any circulating RESA-RBCs, in contrast to the uniform finding of RESA-RBCs in all patients with acute malaria and intact spleens. Parasite clearance after artesunate treatment was markedly prolonged, although the parasites appeared to be dead and could not be cultured ex vivo. These observations confirm the central role of the spleen in the clearance of parasitized RBCs after antimalarial treatment with an artemisinin derivative. Current criteria for high-grade antimalarial drug resistance that are based on changes in parasitemia are not appropriate for asplenic patients.

Newton PN, White NJ, Rozendaal JA, Green MD. 2002. Murder by fake drugs. BMJ, 324 (7341), pp. 800-801. | Read more

Newton PN, van Vugt M, Teja-Isavadharm P, Siriyanonda D, Rasameesoroj M, Teerapong P, Ruangveerayuth R, Slight T et al. 2002. Comparison of oral artesunate and dihydroartemisinin antimalarial bioavailabilities in acute falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 46 (4), pp. 1125-1127. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasma antimalarial activity following oral artesunate or dihydroartemisinin (DHA) treatment was measured by a bioassay in 18 patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. The mean antimalarial activity in terms of the bioavailability of DHA relative to that of artesunate did not differ significantly from 1, suggesting that DHA can be formulated to be an acceptable oral alternative to artesunate.

Suputtamongkol Y, Newton PN, Angus B, Teja-Isavadharm P, Keeratithakul D, Rasameesoraj M, Pukrittayakamee S, White NJ. 2001. A comparison of oral artesunate and artemether antimalarial bioactivities in acute falciparum malaria. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 52 (6), pp. 655-661. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIMS: Artesunate and artemether are the two most widely used artemisinin derivatives in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but there is little information on their comparative pharmacokinetics. The aim of this study was to examine the relative oral antimalarial bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of the two derivatives. METHODS: The pharmacokinetic properties of oral artesunate and artemether (4 mg kg(-1)) were compared in a randomized cross-over study of 14 adult patients in western Thailand with acute uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Antimalarial activity was compared using a previously validated, sensitive bioassay. RESULTS: Despite a 29% lower molar dose, oral artesunate administration resulted in significantly larger mean area under the plasma antimalarial activity time curve and median maximum plasma antimalarial activity than after oral artemether (P <or= 0.02). The mean (95% CI) oral antimalarial bioavailability of artemether, relative to oral artesunate, corrected for molar dose was 58 (40-76)%. The mean (95% CI) relative antimalarial bioavailability of artemether was lower on the first day of treatment, 31 (17-100)%, compared to the second day, 72 (44-118)% (P = 0.018). In vivo parasite clearance and time above the in vitro IC90 were similar for the two drugs, despite considerable differences in Cmax and AUC. CONCLUSIONS: The oral antimalarial bioavailability following artemether was significantly lower than that after artesunate. Artemether oral antimalarial bioavailability is reduced in acute malaria.

Mayxay M, Chotivanich K, Pukrittayakamee S, Newton P, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2001. Contribution of humoral immunity to the therapeutic response in falciparum malaria. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 65 (6), pp. 918-923. | Show Abstract

The contribution of humoral immunity to the therapeutic response in acute falciparum malaria was assessed in a case-control study. Forty adult Thai patients with acute falciparum malaria who had subsequent recrudescent infections and 40 patients matched for age, therapeutic regimen, and disease severity who were cured by Day 28 were studied. All cured patients had positive immunoglobulin (Ig) G to ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen (RESA) in their admission plasma, compared with only 60% of patients who failed to respond to treatment (P < 0.001). The proportion of IgM-positive cases at admission was also higher in the successfully treated group than in the group with failure (70% versus 30%) (P < 0.001). The geometric mean (95% confidence interval) reciprocal IgG titer at admission was significantly higher in cured patients (187.0 [83.5-418.3]) compared with those who experienced treatment failure (11.6 [5.1-26.5]) (P < 0.001). The patients with uncomplicated malaria who were both IgG and IgM positive at admission had significantly shorter fever clearance times and lower admission parasitemia levels compared with those who were negative (P = 0.01 and P = 0.02, respectively). The median (range) in vitro parasite multiplication rate was significantly lower in cultures containing positive anti-RESA antibody plasma compared with those containing normal plasma (0.7 [0.1-3.5] versus 2.6 [0.1-12.1]; P < 0.001). These results suggest that antimalarial antibodies may play an important supportive role in the therapeutic response to antimalarial drugs during acute falciparum malaria.

Newton PN, Chierakul W, Ruangveerayuth R, Silamut K, Teerapong P, Krudsood S, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2001. A comparison of artesunate alone with combined artesunate and quinine in the parenteral treatment of acute falciparum malaria. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 95 (5), pp. 519-523. | Show Abstract | Read more

In some areas clinicians have combined parenteral artesunate and quinine in the belief that the 2 drugs would be additive or synergistic in severe malaria. A randomized comparison of the effectiveness of intravenous (i.v.) artesunate versus i.v. artesunate and i.v. quinine together on parasite clearance was conducted in 1998/99 amongst 69 patients with uncomplicated and severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria in western Thailand. The parasite clearance time did not differ significantly between the 2 treatment groups (P = 0.12), but adverse events were significantly more frequent in the artesunate plus quinine group (P = 0.05). Quinine did not have a significant antipyretic effect and artesunate did not affect the electrocardiographic QTc interval. There is no benefit evident from combining parenteral administration of these 2 antimalarial drugs in the acute phase of treatment.

Newton PN, Chotivanich K, Chierakul W, Ruangveerayuth R, Teerapong P, Silamut K, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2001. A comparison of the in vivo kinetics of Plasmodium falciparum ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen-positive and -negative erythrocytes. Blood, 98 (2), pp. 450-457. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen (RESA)-positive, Plasmodium falciparum-negative red blood cells (RBCs) are cells from which the malaria parasite has been removed by the host without the destruction of the erythrocyte ("pitting"). The survival of RESA-RBCs in vivo was assessed in 14 severe and 6 uncomplicated falciparum malaria patients. The mean RESA-RBC life of 183 hours (95% confidence interval [CI], 136-246) was longer than the median parasite clearance time of 66 hours (range, 30-108 hours) but shorter than the mean red cell life of 1027 hours (95% CI, 840-1213) (P =.0004), with a median ratio of 0.2:1.0 (range, 0.1-0.7). The estimated median percentage of parasites pitted/body transit was 0.003% (range, 0.001%-0.05%). The rate of rise of the RESA-RBC count during the first 24 hours after antimalarial treatment was significantly faster (P =.036) and the subsequent RESA-RBC survival significantly shorter (P =.017) after treatment with an artemisinin derivative than after treatment with quinine. Parasitization of red cells leads to changes in the erythrocyte that shorten their survival even if the parasite is removed subsequently.

Newton P, Proux S, Green M, Smithuis F, Rozendaal J, Prakongpan S, Chotivanich K, Mayxay M et al. 2001. Fake artesunate in southeast Asia. Lancet, 357 (9272), pp. 1948-1950. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artesunate is a key antimalarial drug in the treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in southeast Asia. We investigated the distribution of counterfeit artesunate tablets by use of the validated, simple, and inexpensive Fast Red TR dye technique. We also aimed to identify distinguishing characteristics of the fake drugs. Of 104 shop-bought "artesunate" samples from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam, 38% did not contain artesunate. Characteristics such as cost and physical appearance of the tablets and packaging reliably predicted authenticity. The illicit trade in counterfeit antimalarials is a great threat to the lives of patients with malaria. The dye test will assist national malaria control authorities in urgently needed campaigns to stop this murderous trade.

Newton P, Simpson A, Wanwimolruk S, Maliakal P, Villegas L, Kuypers D, White NJ. 2001. Oral quinine pharmacokinetics and dietary salt intake. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 57 (2), pp. 111-113. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: The objective was to determine whether or not dietary salt intake affects the relative bioavailability of oral quinine. Salt intake has been shown to alter quinidine bioavailability. METHODS: The pharmacokinetic properties of oral quinine sulphate (600 mg salt) were investigated in seven healthy Caucasian volunteers, in a randomised, crossover study, on low- and high-salt diets. Plasma quinine concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and the 24-h urinary sodium excretion was assayed. RESULTS: Although the 24-h urine sodium excretion was significantly higher when the volunteers were on a high-salt diet, there were no significant differences in quinine AUC0-infinity, tmax, and Cmax after the two diets. The median (range) quinine elimination half-life was significantly shorter after a high-salt diet [8.5 (4.3-10.2) h] than after a low-salt diet [10.0 (7.6-14.8) h] (P = 0.04). CONCLUSION: Dietary salt does not affect the relative oral bioavailability of quinine sulphate.

Phetsouvanh R, Phongmany S, Newton P, Mayxay M, Ramsay A, Wuthiekanun V, White NJ. 2001. Melioidosis and Pandora's box in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Clin Infect Dis, 32 (4), pp. 653-654. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis has not been recognized previously in Laos, but within months of starting a prospective study of community acquired septicemia in Vientiane, 2 patients with melioidosis were identified. One was a previously healthy, 44-year-old female rice farmer who presented with supraclavicular lymphadenitis and the other was a 74-year-old man with diabetes and renal calculi who was receiving corticosteroids and had septicemia and septic arthritis.

Chotivanich K, Udomsangpetch R, Simpson JA, Newton P, Pukrittayakamee S, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2000. Parasite multiplication potential and the severity of Falciparum malaria. J Infect Dis, 181 (3), pp. 1206-1209. | Show Abstract | Read more

The multiplication rates and invasiveness of Plasmodium falciparum parasites isolated from adult Thai patients hospitalized with uncomplicated malaria (n=34) were compared with those from persons with severe malaria (n=42). To simulate severe malaria and control for host effects, the in vitro cultures were adjusted to 1% parasitemia and used the same red blood cell donor. P. falciparum isolates from persons with severe malaria had initial cycle multiplication rates in vitro that were 3-fold higher than those from uncomplicated malaria (median [95% confidence interval], 8.3 [7. 1-10.5] vs. 2.8 [1.7-3.9]; P=.001). Parasites causing severe malaria exhibited unrestricted red blood cell invasion, whereas those from uncomplicated malaria were restricted to a geometric mean of 40 (31%-53%) of red blood cells. P. falciparum parasites causing severe malaria were less selective and multiplied more at high parasitemias than those causing uncomplicated malaria.

Newton P, Suputtamongkol Y, Teja-Isavadharm P, Pukrittayakamee S, Navaratnam V, Bates I, White N. 2000. Antimalarial bioavailability and disposition of artesunate in acute falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 44 (4), pp. 972-977. | Show Abstract | Read more

The pharmacokinetic properties of oral and intravenous artesunate (2 mg/kg of body weight) were studied in 19 adult patients with acute uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria by using a randomized crossover design. A sensitive bioassay was used to measure the antimalarial activity in plasma which results from artesunate and its principal metabolite, dihydroartemisinin. The oral study was repeated with 15 patients during convalescence. The mean absolute oral bioavailability of the antimalarial agent in patients with acute malaria was 61% (95% confidence interval [CI], 52 to 70%). The absorption and elimination of oral artesunate were rapid, with a mean elimination half-life of antimalarial activity of 43 min (95% CI, 33 to 53 min). Following oral administration to patients with acute falciparum malaria, peak antimalarial activity in plasma and the area under the plasma concentration-time curve were approximately double those during convalescence and the apparent volume of distribution and clearance were approximately half those during convalescence (P < or = 0.005). Acute malaria is associated with a significant reduction in the clearance of artesunate-associated antimalarial activity.

Newton P, Keeratithakul D, Teja-Isavadharm P, Pukrittayakamee S, Kyle D, White N. 1999. Pharmacokinetics of quinine and 3-hydroxyquinine in severe falciparum malaria with acute renal failure. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 93 (1), pp. 69-72. | Show Abstract | Read more

The plasma concentrations of quinine and its main metabolite, 3-hydroxyquinine (3OHQn), were measured in 5 adult Thai patients with severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria and acute renal failure. Two patients required peritoneal dialysis but all survived. During acute renal failure plasma concentrations of 3OHQn rose to reach up to 45% of the levels of the parent compound. The estimated median (range) quinine clearance was 0.83 mL/kg/min (0.58-1.16), and 3OHQn clearance/fraction of quinine converted was 3.40 mL/kg/min (2.58-4.47). The estimated 3OHQn terminal elimination half-life was 21 h (16.5-32.5). These data suggest that 3OHQn contributes about 12% of the antimalarial activity of the parent compound in patients with falciparum malaria and acute renal failure. It is also likely that 3OHQn contributes to adverse effects, although this metabolite is not quantitated routinely by current high-performance liquid chromatography quinine assays.

Newton P, Standing SJ, Kay JD, Hart G. 1999. Alcoholic ketoacidosis as the cause of repeated episodes of severe metabolic acidosis. Ann Clin Biochem, 36 ( Pt 6) (6), pp. 783-784. | Read more

Newton P, White N. 1999. Malaria: new developments in treatment and prevention. Annu Rev Med, 50 (1), pp. 179-192. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria still kills some 0.5-2.5 million people per year in the tropics. Resistance to the cheap, most commonly used antimalarials continues to spread alarmingly and could outpace drug development. The artemisinin derivatives have had an important clinical impact both on the treatment of resistant falciparum malaria and on the incidence of disease in low-transmission areas. A few promising new antimalarials are being tested clinically but there is an imperative need for cheap, well-tolerated drugs that can be used in short courses, and for strategies to delay the onset of drug resistance. Bed nets have been shown to reduce the incidence of severe malaria in many areas but an effective vaccine is urgently needed.

Lalvani A, Newton P, Conlon CP. 1997. Salmonella enteritidis and acute renal failure: Report of five cases and review INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN CLINICAL PRACTICE, 6 (3), pp. 193-195.

Newton P. 1996. Hypothyroid nails and evolution. Lancet, 347 (9018), pp. 1832-1833. | Read more

Newton P, Lalvani A, Conlon CP. 1996. Psittacosis associated with bilateral 4th cranial nerve palsies. J Infect, 32 (1), pp. 63-65. | Show Abstract | Read more

We report a 55-year-old man who presented with a moderately severe community acquired pneumonia due to Chlamydia psittaci, probably acquired from budgerigars. One of his presenting symptoms was diplopia, secondary to bilateral 4th cranial nerve palsies, which persisted for some months. The literature on neurological complications of pneumonia is reviewed.

NEWTON P. 1994. SOCIAL STABILITY AND CHANGE AMONG FOREST HANUMAN LANGURS (PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS) PRIMATES, 35 (4), pp. 489-498. | Read more

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NEWTON P. 1992. FEEDING AND RANGING PATTERNS OF FOREST HANUMAN LANGURS (PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY, 13 (3), pp. 245-285. | Read more

Newton P, Wolfe N. 1992. Can animals teach us medicine? BMJ, 305 (6868), pp. 1517-1518. | Read more

Newton P. 1991. The use of medicinal plants by primates: A missing link? Trends Ecol Evol, 6 (9), pp. 297-299. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is growing evidence that some species of wild nonhuman primate, especially chimpanzees, take herbal and clay medicines to treat and prevent disease. Such a primate pharmacopoeia may be a missing link in our understanding of the relationship between primate foraging and ranging strategies and plant chemistry; not all plant secondary compounds may be deleterious to the consumer. Just as study of traditional herbal medicines has yielded powerful drugs, so primate medicines may hint at drugs useful in treating human disease.

NEWTON P, NISHIDA T. 1990. POSSIBLE BUCCAL ADMINISTRATION OF HERBAL DRUGS BY WILD CHIMPANZEES, PAN-TROGLODYTES ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 39 (4), pp. 798-801. | Read more

NEWTON P, RANDS M, BOWDEN C. 1990. A COLLECTION OF SMALL MAMMALS FROM EASTERN NEPAL MAMMALIA, 54 (2), pp. 239-244. | Show Abstract | Read more

Une collection de 71 micro-mammifères appartenant à 11 espèces de Muridae et de Soricidae ont été capturés à l'est du Népal lors de 920 nuits/trappe. Dans les forêts et prairies du terai Sal situées à basse altitude, un rongeur (Diomys crumpi) auparavant inconnu au Népal et une musaraigne rare (Crocidura attenuata) ont été capturés en dehors de leur habitat et de leur distribution altitudinale, suggérant qu'une étude plus approfondie de la faune du terai serait souhaitable. Alors que la distribution de Millardia meltada et Mus booduga est limitée au terai, Mus musculus, Soriculus nigrescens, Rattus fulvescens, R. niviventer ont seulement été capturés dans les collines, et R. rattus et M. cervicolor avaient une grande distribution altitudinale. © 1990, Walter de Gruyter. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

NEWTON P. 1990. FETAL ARM PROLAPSE AND PRESUMED MATERNAL DEATH IN A WILD HANUMAN LANGUR (PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS) PRIMATES, 31 (1), pp. 143-145. | Read more

NEWTON P. 1989. ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN LANGUR MONKEYS (PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS) AND CHITAL DEER (AXIS-AXIS) - CHANCE ENCOUNTERS OR A MUTUALISM ETHOLOGY, 83 (2), pp. 89-120. | Read more

NEWTON P. 1988. THE STRUCTURE AND PHENOLOGY OF A MOIST DECIDUOUS FOREST IN THE CENTRAL INDIAN HIGHLANDS VEGETATIO, 75 (1-2), pp. 3-16. | Read more

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NEWTON P. 1988. THE VARIABLE SOCIAL-ORGANIZATION OF HANUMAN LANGURS (PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS), INFANTICIDE, AND THE MONOPOLIZATION OF FEMALES INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY, 9 (1), pp. 59-77. | Read more

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NEWTON P. 1987. THE SOCIAL-ORGANIZATION OF FOREST HANUMAN LANGURS (PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY, 8 (3), pp. 199-232. | Read more

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NEWTON P. 1986. INFANTICIDE IN AN UNDISTURBED FOREST POPULATION OF HANUMAN LANGURS, PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 34 (3), pp. 785-789. | Read more

NEWTON P. 1984. INFANTICIDE AND SOCIAL-CHANGE IN FOREST GREY LANGURS, PRESBYTIS-ENTELLUS, IN KANHA TIGER RESERVE, INDIA INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PRIMATOLOGY, 5 (4), pp. 366-366.

RIDLEY M, NEWTON P. 1983. BIOLOGY UNDER THE RAJ NEW SCIENTIST, 99 (1376), pp. 857-&.

Newton PN, Tabernero P, Dwivedi P, Culzoni MJ, Monge ME, Swamidoss I, Mildenhall D, Green MD et al. 2014. Falsified medicines in Africa: all talk, no action. Lancet Glob Health, 2 (9), pp. e509-e510. | Read more

Ashley EA, Dhorda M, Fairhurst RM, Amaratunga C, Lim P, Suon S, Sreng S, Anderson JM et al. 2014. Spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. N Engl J Med, 371 (5), pp. 411-423. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has emerged in Southeast Asia and now poses a threat to the control and elimination of malaria. Mapping the geographic extent of resistance is essential for planning containment and elimination strategies. METHODS: Between May 2011 and April 2013, we enrolled 1241 adults and children with acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria in an open-label trial at 15 sites in 10 countries (7 in Asia and 3 in Africa). Patients received artesunate, administered orally at a daily dose of either 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or 4 mg per kilogram, for 3 days, followed by a standard 3-day course of artemisinin-based combination therapy. Parasite counts in peripheral-blood samples were measured every 6 hours, and the parasite clearance half-lives were determined. RESULTS: The median parasite clearance half-lives ranged from 1.9 hours in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 7.0 hours at the Thailand-Cambodia border. Slowly clearing infections (parasite clearance half-life >5 hours), strongly associated with single point mutations in the "propeller" region of the P. falciparum kelch protein gene on chromosome 13 (kelch13), were detected throughout mainland Southeast Asia from southern Vietnam to central Myanmar. The incidence of pretreatment and post-treatment gametocytemia was higher among patients with slow parasite clearance, suggesting greater potential for transmission. In western Cambodia, where artemisinin-based combination therapies are failing, the 6-day course of antimalarial therapy was associated with a cure rate of 97.7% (95% confidence interval, 90.9 to 99.4) at 42 days. CONCLUSIONS: Artemisinin resistance to P. falciparum, which is now prevalent across mainland Southeast Asia, is associated with mutations in kelch13. Prolonged courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies are currently efficacious in areas where standard 3-day treatments are failing. (Funded by the U.K. Department of International Development and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01350856.).

Mayxay M, Castonguay-Vanier J, Chansamouth V, Dubot-Pérès A, Paris DH, Phetsouvanh R, Tangkhabuanbutra J, Douangdala P et al. 2013. Causes of non-malarial fever in Laos: a prospective study. Lancet Glob Health, 1 (1), pp. e46-e54. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Because of reductions in the incidence of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Laos, identification of the causes of fever in people without malaria, and discussion of the best empirical treatment options, are urgently needed. We aimed to identify the causes of non-malarial acute fever in patients in rural Laos. METHODS: For this prospective study, we recruited 1938 febrile patients, between May, 2008, and December, 2010, at Luang Namtha provincial hospital in northwest Laos (n=1390), and between September, 2008, and December, 2010, at Salavan provincial hospital in southern Laos (n=548). Eligible participants were aged 5-49 years with fever (≥38°C) lasting 8 days or less and were eligible for malaria testing by national guidelines. FINDINGS: With conservative definitions of cause, we assigned 799 (41%) patients a diagnosis. With exclusion of influenza, the top five diagnoses when only one aetiological agent per patient was identified were dengue (156 [8%] of 1927 patients), scrub typhus (122 [7%] of 1871), Japanese encephalitis virus (112 [6%] of 1924), leptospirosis (109 [6%] of 1934), and bacteraemia (43 [2%] of 1938). 115 (32%) of 358 patients at Luang Namtha hospital tested influenza PCR-positive between June and December, 2010, of which influenza B was the most frequently detected strain (n=121 [87%]). Disease frequency differed significantly between the two sites: Japanese encephalitis virus infection (p=0·04), typhoid (p=0·006), and leptospirosis (p=0·001) were more common at Luang Namtha, whereas dengue and malaria were more common at Salavan (all p<0·0001). With use of evidence from southeast Asia when possible, we estimated that azithromycin, doxycycline, ceftriaxone, and ofloxacin would have had significant efficacy for 258 (13%), 240 (12%), 154 (8%), and 41 (2%) of patients, respectively. INTERPRETATION: Our findings suggest that a wide range of treatable or preventable pathogens are implicated in non-malarial febrile illness in Laos. Empirical treatment with doxycycline for patients with undifferentiated fever and negative rapid diagnostic tests for malaria and dengue could be an appropriate strategy for rural health workers in Laos. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, WHO-Western Pacific Region, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Castonguay-Vanier J, Davong V, Bouthasavong L, Sengdetka D, Simmalavong M, Seupsavith A, Dance DA, Baker S, Le Thi Phuong T, Vongsouvath M, Newton PN. 2013. Evaluation of a simple blood culture amplification and antigen detection method for diagnosis of Salmonella enterica serovar typhi bacteremia. J Clin Microbiol, 51 (1), pp. 142-148. | Show Abstract | Read more

In most areas where typhoid is endemic, laboratory diagnosis is not possible due to the lack of appropriate facilities. We investigated whether the combination of blood culture amplification of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi with an S. Typhi antigen rapid diagnostic test (RDT) could be an accurate and inexpensive tool for the accelerated diagnosis of patients with acute typhoid in Laos. For a panel of 23 Gram-negative reference pathogens, the Standard Diagnostics (catalog no. 15FK20; Kyonggi-do, South Korea) RDT gave positive results for S. Typhi NCTC 8385, S. Typhi NCTC 786 (Vi negative), Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (ATCC 13076), and Salmonella enterica serovar Ndolo NCTC 8700 (all group D). In a prospective study of 6,456 blood culture bottles from 3,028 patients over 15 months, 392 blood culture bottles (6.1%) from 221 (7.3%) patients had Gram-negative rods (GNRs) seen in the blood culture fluid. The sensitivity, negative predictive value, specificity, and positive predictive value were 96.7%, 99.5%, 97.9%, and 87.9%, respectively, for patients with proven S. Typhi bacteremia and 91.2%, 98.4%, 98.9%, and 93.9% for patients with group D Salmonella. The median (range) number of days between diagnosis by RDT and reference assays was 1 (-1 to +2) day for those with confirmed S. Typhi. The use of antigen-based pathogen detection in blood culture fluid may be a useful, relatively rapid, inexpensive, and accurate technique for the identification of important causes of bacteremia in the tropics.

Newton PN, Fernández FM, Plançon A, Mildenhall DC, Green MD, Ziyong L, Christophel EM, Phanouvong S et al. 2008. A collaborative epidemiological investigation into the criminal fake artesunate trade in South East Asia. PLoS Med, 5 (2), pp. e32. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Since 1998 the serious public health problem in South East Asia of counterfeit artesunate, containing no or subtherapeutic amounts of the active antimalarial ingredient, has led to deaths from untreated malaria, reduced confidence in this vital drug, large economic losses for the legitimate manufacturers, and concerns that artemisinin resistance might be engendered. METHODS AND FINDINGS: With evidence of a deteriorating situation, a group of police, criminal analysts, chemists, palynologists, and health workers collaborated to determine the source of these counterfeits under the auspices of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Western Pacific World Health Organization Regional Office. A total of 391 samples of genuine and counterfeit artesunate collected in Vietnam (75), Cambodia (48), Lao PDR (115), Myanmar (Burma) (137) and the Thai/Myanmar border (16), were available for analysis. Sixteen different fake hologram types were identified. High-performance liquid chromatography and/or mass spectrometry confirmed that all specimens thought to be counterfeit (195/391, 49.9%) on the basis of packaging contained no or small quantities of artesunate (up to 12 mg per tablet as opposed to approximately 50 mg per genuine tablet). Chemical analysis demonstrated a wide diversity of wrong active ingredients, including banned pharmaceuticals, such as metamizole, and safrole, a carcinogen, and raw material for manufacture of methylenedioxymethamphetamine ('ecstasy'). Evidence from chemical, mineralogical, biological, and packaging analysis suggested that at least some of the counterfeits were manufactured in southeast People's Republic of China. This evidence prompted the Chinese Government to act quickly against the criminal traders with arrests and seizures. CONCLUSIONS: An international multi-disciplinary group obtained evidence that some of the counterfeit artesunate was manufactured in China, and this prompted a criminal investigation. International cross-disciplinary collaborations may be appropriate in the investigation of other serious counterfeit medicine public health problems elsewhere, but strengthening of international collaborations and forensic and drug regulatory authority capacity will be required.

Phetsouvanh R, Phongmany S, Soukaloun D, Rasachak B, Soukhaseum V, Soukhaseum S, Frichithavong K, Khounnorath S et al. 2006. Causes of community-acquired bacteremia and patterns of antimicrobial resistance in Vientiane, Laos. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 75 (5), pp. 978-985. | Show Abstract

There is no published information on the causes of bacteremia in the Lao PDR (Laos). Between 2000 and 2004, 4512 blood culture pairs were taken from patients admitted to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Laos, with suspected community-acquired bacteremia; 483 (10.7%) cultures grew a clinically significant community-acquired organism, most commonly Salmonella enterica serovar typhi (50.9%), Staphylococcus aureus (19.0%), and Escherichia coli (12.4%). S. aureus bacteremia was common among infants (69.2%), while children 1-5 years had a high frequency of typhoid (44%). Multi-drug-resistant S. Typhi was rare (6%). On multiple logistic regression analysis, typhoid was associated with younger age, longer illness, diarrhea, higher admission temperature, and lower peripheral white blood cell count than non-typhoidal bacteremia. Empirical parenteral ampicillin and gentamicin would have some activity against approximately 88% of clinically significant isolates at a cost of US $1.4/day, an important exception being B. pseudomallei. Bacteremic infants in this setting require an anti-staphylococcal antibiotic.

Newton PN, Green MD, Fernández FM, Day NP, White NJ. 2006. Counterfeit anti-infective drugs. Lancet Infect Dis, 6 (9), pp. 602-613. | Show Abstract | Read more

The production of counterfeit or substandard anti-infective drugs is a widespread and under-recognised problem that contributes to morbidity, mortality, and drug resistance, and leads to spurious reporting of resistance and toxicity and loss of confidence in health-care systems. Counterfeit drugs particularly affect the most disadvantaged people in poor countries. Although advances in forensic chemical analysis and simple field tests will enhance drug quality monitoring, improved access to inexpensive genuine medicines, support of drug regulatory authorities, more open reporting, vigorous law enforcement, and more international cooperation with determined political leadership will be essential to counter this threat.

Phongmany S, Rolain JM, Phetsouvanh R, Blacksell SD, Soukkhaseum V, Rasachack B, Phiasakha K, Soukkhaseum S et al. 2006. Rickettsial infections and fever, Vientiane, Laos. Emerg Infect Dis, 12 (2), pp. 256-262. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rickettsial diseases have not been described previously from Laos, but in a prospective study, acute rickettsial infection was identified as the cause of fever in 115 (27%) of 427 adults with negative blood cultures admitted to Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, Laos. The organisms identified by serologic analysis were Orientia tsutsugamushi (14.8%), Rickettsia typhi (9.6%), and spotted fever group rickettsia (2.6% [8 R. helvetica, 1 R. felis, 1 R. conorii subsp. indica, and 1 Rickettsia "AT1"]). Patients with murine typhus had a lower frequency of peripheral lymphadenopathy than those with scrub typhus (3% vs. 46%, p<0.001). Rickettsioses are an underrecognized cause of undifferentiated febrile illnesses among adults in Laos. This finding has implications for the local empiric treatment of fever.

Newton PN, McGready R, Fernandez F, Green MD, Sunjio M, Bruneton C, Phanouvong S, Millet P et al. 2006. Manslaughter by fake artesunate in Asia--will Africa be next? PLoS Med, 3 (6), pp. e197. | Read more

Newton PN, Angus BJ, Chierakul W, Dondorp A, Ruangveerayuth R, Silamut K, Teerapong P, Suputtamongkol Y, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2003. Randomized comparison of artesunate and quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 37 (1), pp. 7-16. | Show Abstract | Read more

A randomized, open-label comparison of artesunate and quinine was conducted in 113 adults with clinically severe falciparum malaria in western Thailand. Mortality was 12% with artesunate and 22% with quinine treatment (relative risk, 0.53; 95% confidence interval, 0.23-1.26; P=.22). Multiple logistic regression analysis found admission plasma lactate level, Glasgow Coma Scale score, and total serum bilirubin level to be independent risk factors for death. Coma recovery and times to normalize plasma lactate levels were similar, but the parasite clearance time was much shorter among artesunate-treated patients (P=.019). Fewer patients became hypoglycemic during artesunate therapy (10%) than during quinine therapy (28%) (P=.03). Artesunate is at least as effective as quinine in the treatment of adults with severe malaria. Larger trials are required to determine whether mortality is reduced among patients treated with artesunate.

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