Date: 
01/03/2013
Investigation Line: 

Abstract

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is endemic in Salta, the northwestern province of Argentina. We describe an outbreak involving five recreational hunters whose exposure was limited to several hours in a residual patch of primary forest. All patients presented with typical cutaneous lesions after a mean incubation period of 59 days (range 15-78), and one developed simultaneous mucosal involvement. Polymerase chain reaction analysis of lesions confirmed Leishmania (V.) braziliensis as the etiologic agent in three cases. All patients were cured with anti-Leishmania treatment. Entomologic surveys in the transmission area revealed a predominance of Lutzomyia neivai. This outbreak report confirms a microfocal transmission pattern of tegumentary leishmaniasis in the Americas and based on a well-determined exposure, allows the determination of incubation times for leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania braziliensis.

Date: 
01/01/2013
Investigation Line: 

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In HIV infection, initiation of treatment is associated with improved clinical outcom and reduced rate of sexual transmission. However, difficulty in detecting infection in early stages impairs those benefits. We determined the minimum testing rate that maximizes benefits derived from early diagnosis.

METHODS:

We developed a mathematical model of HIV infection, diagnosis and treatment that allows studying both diagnosed and undiagnosed populations, as well as determining the impact of modifying time to diagnosis and testing rates. The model's external consistency was assessed by estimating time to AIDS and death in absence of treatment as well as by estimating age-dependent mortality rates during treatment, and comparing them with data previously reported from CASCADE and DHCS cohorts.

RESULTS:

In our model, life expectancy of patients diagnosed before 8 years post infection is the same as HIV-negative population. After this time point, age at death is significantly dependent on diagnosis delay but initiation of treatment increases life expectancy to similar levels as HIV-negative population. Early mortality during HAART is dependent on treatment CD4 threshold until 6 years post infection and becomes dependent on diagnosis delay after 6 years post infection. By modifying testing rates, we estimate that an annual testing rate of 20% leads to diagnosis of 90% of infected individuals within the first 8.2 years of infection and that current testing rate in middle-high income settings stands close to 10%. In addition, many differences between low-income and middle-high incomes can be predicted by solely modifying the diagnosis delay.

CONCLUSIONS:

To increase testing rate of undiagnosed HIV population by two-fold in middle-high income settings will minimize early mortality during initiation of treatment and global mortality rate as well as maximize life expectancy. Our results highlight the impact of achieving early diagnosis and the importance of strongly work on improving HIV testing rates.

Date: 
01/07/2012
Investigation Line: 

Abstract

We evaluated the recombinant antigen SAPA (Shed Acute Phase Antigen) for the detection of Trypanosoma cruzi antibodies in sera from naturally infected dogs. The technique used was ELISA and the antigens were a homogenate of parasite T. cruzi (ELISA-H) and the recombinant SAPA (ELISA-SAPA). We analyzed 93 sera from dogs by ELISA-H and ELISA-SAPA, which were grouped as follows: G1: 11 negative control sera from the city of Salta, G2: 11 positive control sera from dogs naturally infected with T. cruzi and G3: 71 samples of dogs belonging to a Chagas disease-endemic area. The sensitivity and specificity of ELISA-SAPA were 100 %. The kappa index between ELISA-H and ELISA-SAPA was 0,85. These results confirm the use of SAPA antigen in the diagnosis of infection with T. cruzi in dogs.

Date: 
01/08/2012
Investigation Line: 

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The diagnosis of the leishmaniases poses enormous challenges in Argentina. The Polymorphism-Specific PCR (PS-PCR) designed and validated in our laboratories has been proven effective for typifying the Leishmania genus from cultured material. Here we evaluated the performance of this method in the diagnosis of American tegumentary leishmaniasis (ATL) and the rapid identification of Leishmania spp. directly from clinical specimens.

METHODS:

A total of 63 patients from northwestern Argentina, with cutaneous or mucocutaneous lesions, underwent an ATL diagnosis protocol which included clinical examination, Leishmanin skin test, and microscopic examination of dermal smears. In addition, we performed PS-PCR on DNA directly extracted from the specimens scraped from the lesions.

RESULTS:

Out of the 63 patients, 44 were classified as ATL cases and 19 as non-ATL cases. The diagnostic sensitivity of the microscopic analysis of dermal smears and PS-PCR individually were 70.5% and 81%, respectively. When performing both tests in parallel, this parameter increased significantly to 97.6% (p = 0.0018). The specificities, on the other hand, were 100%, 84.2%, and 83.3% for the combination, respectively (p > 0.05). Using the PS-PCR analysis we successfully identified the Leishmania spp. in 31 out of the 44 ATL cases. Twenty-eight (90.3%) cases were caused by L. (V.) braziliensis, two (6.5%) by L. (V.) guyanensis, and one (3.2%) by L. (V.) panamensis.

CONCLUSIONS:

The efficacy of the ATL diagnosis was significantly improved by combining the dermal smear examination with a PS-PCR analysis. Our strategy allowed us to reach the diagnosis of ATL with high accuracy regarding the species of the etiological agent in 70.5% of the cases. Moreover, we diagnosed two cases of the disseminated cutaneous form caused by L. (V.) braziliensis and a cutaneous case due to L. (V.) panamensis infection, both findings reported for the first time in Argentina.

Date: 
01/09/2012
Investigation Line: 

Abstract

The biological behavior of the different Trypanosoma cruzi strains is still unclear and the importance of exploring the relevance of these differences in natural isolates is of great significance. Herein we describe the biological behavior of four T. cruzi isolates circulating sympatrically in a restricted geographic area in Argentina endemic for Chagas Disease. These isolates were characterized as belonging to the Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) TcI, TcIII, TcV and TcVI as shown by Multilocus Enzyme Electrophoresis and Multilocus Sequence Typing. In order to study the natural behavior of the different isolates and to preserve their natural properties, we developed a vector transmission model that allows their maintenance in the laboratory. The model consisted of serial passages of these parasites between insect vectors and mice. Vector-derived parasite forms were then inoculated in C57BL/6J mice and number of parasite in peripheral blood, serological response and histological damage in acute and chronic phases of the infection were measured. Parasites from DTUs TcI, TcIII and TcVI were detected by direct fresh blood examination, while TcV parasites could only be detected by Polimerase Chain Reaction. No significant difference in the anti-T. cruzi antibody response was found during the chronic phase of infection, except for mice infected with TcV parasites where no antibodies could be detected. Histological sections showed that TcI isolate produced more damage in skeletal muscle while TcVI induced more inflammation in the heart. This work shows differential biological behavior among different parasite isolates obtained from the same cycle of transmission, permitting the opportunity to formulate future hypotheses of clinical and epidemiological importance.

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