DNA of Diverse Adenoviruses Detected in Cameroonian Rodent and Shrew Species

Rodent adenoviruses are important models for human disease. In contrast to the over 70 adenovirus types isolated from humans, few rodent adenoviruses are known, despite the vast diversity of rodent species. PCR and Sanger sequencing were used to investigate adenovirus diversity in wild rodents and shrews in Cameroon. Adenovirus DNA was detected in 13.8% of animals (n = 218). All detected sequences differ from known adenovirus types by more than 10% at the amino acid level, thus indicating up to 14 novel adenovirus species. These results highlight the diversity of rodent adenoviruses, their phylogeny, and opportunities for studying alternative adenovirus rodent models.

Lifetime Experiences of Gender-Based Violence, Depression and Condom Use Among Female Sex Workers in Cameroon

In general populations, consistent data highlight the relationships among violence, HIV risk behavior and depression; however, these patterns are not well understood among female sex workers (FSWs). We examined the relationship between FSWs' experiences with sexual violence and consistent condom use as a key HIV risk behavior and explored mental health as a potential mediator. In total, 2,165 FSWs were recruited via respondent-driven sampling in Cameroon in 2016. The women answered questions about violence, condom use and mental health. Inconsistent condom use with clients was reported by 23.5% of participants (508/2,165). Lifetime sexual violence was prevalent with 33.0% (713/2,163) of participants. Almost 50% (1,067/2,143) of respondents had some level of depression. Sexual violence was significantly associated with inconsistent condom use (adjusted risk ratio (aRR) 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.2-1.6)). Of FSWs with no depression, 24.9% (267/1,071) reported sexual violence, versus 56.1% (32/57) of respondents with severe depression (p < .01). Severe depression significantly increased risk of condomless sex (aRR 1.8, 95% CI (1.3-2.6)); in mediation analysis, both sexual violence and severe depression remained significant predictors of condomless sex (aRR 1.4, 95% CI (1.2, 1.6) and aRR 1.7, 95% CI (1.2-2.4), respectively). Depression did not mediate the relationship between sexual violence and condom use. Sexual violence and depression are prevalent and independently associated with condom nonuse with clients among FSWs in Cameroon. Results highlight the need for interventions to address mental health as well as gender-based violence for FSWs.

Genome Analysis of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Isolated From Pigs: Detection of the Clonal Lineage ST398 in Cameroon and South Africa

Food animals are considered reservoirs of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and are implicated in their zoonotic transmission in the farm-to-plate continuum. LA-MRSA has been reported as a zoonotic agent that has the potential to spread to humans and may cause infections in at-risk groups. In this study, whole genome sequencing was used to describe the genetic environment (resistance mechanisms, virulence factors and mobile genetic elements) and investigate the genetic lineages of MRSA isolates from pigs in Cameroonian and South African abattoirs. During March-October 2016, 288 nasal and rectal pooled samples from 432 pigs as well as nasal and hand swabs from 82 humans were collected. Genomic DNA was sequenced using an Illumina MiSeq platform. Generated reads were de novo-assembled using the Qiagen CLC Genomics Workbench and SPAdes. The assembled contigs were annotated, and antibiotic resistance genes, virulence factors, plasmids, SCCmec and phage elements were identified with ResFinder, Virulence Finder, PlasmidFinder, SCCmec Finder and PHAST, respectively. Core genome single nucleotide analysis was undertaken to assess clonal relatedness among isolates. A lower MRSA prevalence was observed in pigs in Cameroon (n = 1/13; 0.07%) compared with South Africa (n = 4/22; 18.18%), and none of the workers were colonized by MRSA. Genome analysis identified various antibiotic resistance genes along with six virulence factors in all isolates. All MRSA isolates belonged to the clonal lineage ST398 (spa-type t011) and harboured the type Vc SCCmec and several plasmids. Our study shows that the livestock-associated MRSA clonal lineage ST398 is already present in both Cameroon and South Africa and is probably underestimated in the absence of molecular epidemiological studies. It reveals the serious food safety and public health threat associated with this animal strain and underscores the need for interventions to contain this resistant clone.

Characterising Unmet HIV Prevention and Treatment Needs Among Young Female Sex Workers and Young Men Who Have Sex With Men in Cameroon: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

In Cameroon, female sex workers (FSWs) and men who have sex with men (MSM) carry disproportionately high burdens of HIV. Despite specific vulnerabilities and health needs, young key populations remain understudied and underserved in Cameroon owing to legal, ethical, and social challenges. We aimed to assess and compare HIV-related behavioural and structural risks and coverage of HIV prevention and treatment services between young and older key populations to inform implementation strategies. FSWs and MSM aged 18 years or older were recruited through respondent-driven-sampling for a biobehavioural survey carried out in five Cameroonian cities. Prevalence of HIV, risk, stigma, and health service engagement were compared between young (18-24 years) and older (≥25 years) key populations. Multivariable Poisson regression models, disaggregated by key population, were constructed to estimate prevalence ratios (PR) by age group for HIV service engagement. Participants were recruited between Nov 30, 2015, and Oct 12, 2016. Among FSWs, 724 (32%) of 2255 were aged 18-24 years, and median age of first transactional or compensated sex was 22 years (IQR 19-28). Among MSM, 840 (63%) of 1323 were aged 18-24 years, and median age of first anal sex was 18 years (IQR 17-21). RDS-adjusted HIV prevalence was 8·5% (95% CI 4·7-15·2) among young FSWs and 12·9% (9·5-18·2) among young MSM. HIV viral suppression (<1000 copies per mL) was evident in 24 (43%) of 56 young and 292 (61%) of 479 older FSWs (p=0·0091) and 40 (34%) of 119 of young and 64 (42%) of 153 older MSM (p=0·17). Young FSWs were less likely than older FSWs to report recent peer education (PR 0·65, 95% CI 0·48-0·88), or membership of an FSW community-based organisation (PR 0·69, 0·55-0·86) and were more likely to report untreated sexually transmitted infection symptoms in the past year (PR 1·29, 1·03-1·61). Young MSM were less likely than older MSM to report an HIV test in the past year (PR 0·88, 0·78-0·98), recent peer education (PR 0·77, 0·62-0·95) and receipt of free condoms (PR 0·77, 0·67-0·89). By key population, condom use and recent experiences of stigma and violence were similar between age groups (p>0·05). Young key populations have similar behavioural and structural risks to older populations but have lower coverage of HIV preventive and treatment services. Achieving an AIDS-free generation in Cameroon and elsewhere in the region necessitates overcoming social and legal challenges and delivering innovative, evidence-based, and human rights-affirming HIV prevention and treatment interventions for young key populations.

Schmallenberg Virus in Azerbaijan 2012-2018

Schmallenberg virus is an orthobunyavirus that infects ruminants and can cause transient fever, diarrhea, reduced milk production, congenital malformations, and abortions. Following the first suspected cases in Azerbaijan, a surveillance study was launched to determine and follow the situation. Serum samples and fetal tissue were collected starting October 2012 and tested via ELISA and qPCR. A first wave of Schmallenberg virus infections was detected in 2012/2013 in, and was largely limited to, the southern part of the country. In the second and larger wave in 2013/2014, cases were found throughout most of the country. Since then, no major outbreaks have been recorded.

Characterizing Sociostructural Associations With New HIV Diagnoses Among Female Sex Workers in Cameroon

Female sex workers (FSW) are disproportionately affected by HIV in Cameroon, with an estimated 23.6% HIV prevalence. Given the unavailability of HIV incidence data, to better understand associations with acquiring HIV we assessed the prevalence and associations with new HIV diagnoses among FSW in Cameroon. In 2016, FSW were recruited through respondent-driven sampling from 5 cities for a biobehavioral survey. Participants self-reporting living with HIV or with an indeterminate test status were excluded from analysis. New diagnoses were defined as testing HIV-positive when participants self-reported HIV-negative or unknown status. A multivariable modified Poisson regression model was developed to assess determinants of new HIV diagnosis (referent group: HIV-negative) using key covariates; adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) are reported if statistically significant (P < 0.05). Overall 2255 FSW were recruited. Excluding participants who self-reported living with HIV (n = 297) and indeterminate test results (n = 7), 260/1951 (13.3%) FSW were newly diagnosed with HIV. Variables significantly associated with new HIV diagnosis were: no secondary/higher education [aPR: 1.56, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.12 to 2.15], 5+ dependents compared with none (aPR: 2.11, 95% CI: 1.01 to 4.40), 5+ years involved in sex work compared with <1 year (aPR: 2.84, 95% CI: 1.26 to 6.42), history of incarceration (aPR: 2.13, 95% CI: 1.13 to 3.99), and low social capital (aPR: 1.53, 95% CI: 1.12 to 2.10). Higher monthly income (>250,000 FCFA vs. <50,000 FCFA) was associated with lower prevalence of new HIV diagnosis (aPR: 0.22, 95% CI: 0.05 to 0.86). There are significant sociostructural factors that seem to potentiate risk of HIV infection and delay diagnosis among FSW in Cameroon. Initiatives to build social capital and integrate services such as pre-exposure prophylaxis and HIV self-testing into HIV programs may reduce new infections and decrease time to diagnosis and treatment.

Using Social Media to Estimate Zika's Impact on Tourism: #babymoon, 2014-2017

Abstract: Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other birth defects. We hypothesized that the Latin America Zika epidemic resulted in pregnant women and their partners adopting behavioral changes to limit risk, leading them to forego travel to Zika-affected locations. We evaluated this hypothesis by studying travelers’ intent and behavior through Twitter data related to babymoon: a holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born. We found the odds of mentioning representative Zika-affected locations in #babymoon tweets dropped significantly (Odds ratio: 0.29, 95% CI: 0.20–0.40) after the Zika-microcephaly association became well-known. This result was further corroborated through a content analysis of #babymoon tweets mentioning Zika-affected locations, which identified if the Twitter user was physically present in the Zika-affected locations. Conversely, we found a small but statistically insignificant increase in the odds of mentioning Zika-free locations from #babymoon tweets (Odds Ratio: 1.11, 95% CI: 0.97–1.27) after the Zika-microcephaly association became well-known. 

Assessing global preparedness for the next pandemic: development and application of an Epidemic Preparedness Index

Abstract and Introduction: Robust metrics for national-level preparedness are critical for assessing global resilience to epidemic and pandemic outbreaks. However, existing preparedness assessments focus primarily on public health systems or specific legislative frameworks, and do not measure other essential capacities that enable and support public health preparedness and response. Methods: We developed an Epidemic Preparedness Index (EPI) to assess national-level preparedness. The EPI is global, covering 188 countries. It consists of five subindices measuring each country’s economic resources, public health communications, infrastructure, public health systems and institutional capacity. To evaluate the construct validity of the EPI, we tested its correlation with proxy measures for preparedness and response capacity, including the timeliness of outbreak detection and reporting, as well as vaccination rates during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Results: The most prepared countries were concentrated in Europe and North America, while the least prepared countries clustered in Central and West Africa and Southeast Asia. Better prepared countries were found to report infectious disease outbreaks more quickly and to have vaccinated a larger proportion of their population during the 2009 pandemic. Conclusion: The EPI measures a country’s capacity to detect and respond to infectious disease events. Existing tools, such as the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), have been designed to measure preparedness within a country over time. The EPI complements the JEE by providing a holistic view of preparedness and is constructed to support comparative risk assessment between countries. The index can be updated rapidly to generate global estimates of pandemic preparedness that can inform strategy and resource allocation.

Emergence and Spread of Extended Spectrum β-Lactamase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-PE) in Pigs and Exposed Workers: A Multicentre Comparative Study Between Cameroon and South Africa

Extended spectrum β-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-PE) represent a significant public health concern globally and are recognized by the World Health Organization as pathogens of critical priority. However, the prevalence of ESBL-PE in food animals and humans across the farm-to-plate continuum is yet to be elucidated in Sub-Saharan countries including Cameroon and South Africa. This work sought to determine the risk factors, carriage, antimicrobial resistance profiles and genetic relatedness of extended spectrum β-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-PE) amid pigs and abattoir workers in Cameroon and South Africa. ESBL-PE from pooled samples of 432 pigs and nasal and hand swabs of 82 humans were confirmed with VITEK 2 system. Genomic fingerprinting was performed by ERIC-PCR. Logistic regression (univariate and multivariate) analyses were carried out to identify risk factors for human ESBL-PE carriage using a questionnaire survey amongst abattoir workers. ESBL-PE prevalence in animal samples from Cameroon were higher than for South Africa and ESBL-PE carriage was observed in Cameroonian workers only. Nasal ESBL-PE colonization was statistically significantly associated with hand ESBL-PE (21.95% vs. 91.67%; p = 0.000; OR = 39.11; 95% CI 2.02⁻755.72; p = 0.015). Low level of education, lesser monthly income, previous hospitalization, recent antibiotic use, inadequate handwashing, lack of training and contact with poultry were the risk factors identified. The study highlights the threat posed by ESBL-PE in the food chain and recommends the implementation of effective strategies for antibiotic resistance containment in both countries.

Translating Predictions of Zoonotic Viruses for Policymakers

Recent outbreaks of Ebola virus disease and Zika virus disease highlight the need for disseminating accurate predictions of emerging zoonotic viruses to national governments for disease surveillance and response. Although there are published maps for many emerging zoonotic viruses, it is unknown if there is agreement among different models or if they are concordant with national expert opinion. Therefore, we reviewed existing predictions for five high priority emerging zoonotic viruses with national experts in Cameroon to investigate these issues and determine how to make predictions more useful for national policymakers. Predictive maps relied primarily on environmental parameters and species distribution models. Rift Valley fever virus and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus predictions differed from national expert opinion, potentially because of local livestock movements. Our findings reveal that involving national experts could elicit additional data to improve predictions of emerging pathogens as well as help repackage predictions for policymakers.