• Establishment and cryptic transmission of Zika virus in Brazil and the Americas.

    18 January 2018

    Transmission of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas was first confirmed in May 2015 in northeast Brazil. Brazil has had the highest number of reported ZIKV cases worldwide (more than 200,000 by 24 December 2016) and the most cases associated with microcephaly and other birth defects (2,366 confirmed by 31 December 2016). Since the initial detection of ZIKV in Brazil, more than 45 countries in the Americas have reported local ZIKV transmission, with 24 of these reporting severe ZIKV-associated disease. However, the origin and epidemic history of ZIKV in Brazil and the Americas remain poorly understood, despite the value of this information for interpreting observed trends in reported microcephaly. Here we address this issue by generating 54 complete or partial ZIKV genomes, mostly from Brazil, and reporting data generated by a mobile genomics laboratory that travelled across northeast Brazil in 2016. One sequence represents the earliest confirmed ZIKV infection in Brazil. Analyses of viral genomes with ecological and epidemiological data yield an estimate that ZIKV was present in northeast Brazil by February 2014 and is likely to have disseminated from there, nationally and internationally, before the first detection of ZIKV in the Americas. Estimated dates for the international spread of ZIKV from Brazil indicate the duration of pre-detection cryptic transmission in recipient regions. The role of northeast Brazil in the establishment of ZIKV in the Americas is further supported by geographic analysis of ZIKV transmission potential and by estimates of the basic reproduction number of the virus.

  • Contemporary status of insecticide resistance in the major Aedes vectors of arboviruses infecting humans.

    9 January 2018

    Both Aedes aegytpi and Ae. albopictus are major vectors of 5 important arboviruses (namely chikungunya virus, dengue virus, Rift Valley fever virus, yellow fever virus, and Zika virus), making these mosquitoes an important factor in the worldwide burden of infectious disease. Vector control using insecticides coupled with larval source reduction is critical to control the transmission of these viruses to humans but is threatened by the emergence of insecticide resistance. Here, we review the available evidence for the geographical distribution of insecticide resistance in these 2 major vectors worldwide and map the data collated for the 4 main classes of neurotoxic insecticide (carbamates, organochlorines, organophosphates, and pyrethroids). Emerging resistance to all 4 of these insecticide classes has been detected in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Target-site mutations and increased insecticide detoxification have both been linked to resistance in Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus but more work is required to further elucidate metabolic mechanisms and develop robust diagnostic assays. Geographical distributions are provided for the mechanisms that have been shown to be important to date. Estimating insecticide resistance in unsampled locations is hampered by a lack of standardisation in the diagnostic tools used and by a lack of data in a number of regions for both resistance phenotypes and genotypes. The need for increased sampling using standard methods is critical to tackle the issue of emerging insecticide resistance threatening human health. Specifically, diagnostic doses and well-characterised susceptible strains are needed for the full range of insecticides used to control Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus to standardise measurement of the resistant phenotype, and calibrated diagnostic assays are needed for the major mechanisms of resistance.

  • Mapping under-5 and neonatal mortality in Africa, 2000-15: a baseline analysis for the Sustainable Development Goals

    19 January 2018

    Background During the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era, many countries in Africa achieved marked reductions in under-5 and neonatal mortality. Yet the pace of progress toward these goals substantially varied at the national level, demonstrating an essential need for tracking even more local trends in child mortality. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, which established ambitious targets for improving child survival by 2030, optimal intervention planning and targeting will require understanding of trends and rates of progress at a higher spatial resolution. In this study, we aimed to generate high-resolution estimates of under-5 and neonatal all-cause mortality across 46 countries in Africa. Methods We assembled 235 geographically resolved household survey and census data sources on child deaths to produce estimates of under-5 and neonatal mortality at a resolution of 5 × 5 km grid cells across 46 African countries for 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015. We used a Bayesian geostatistical analytical framework to generate these estimates, and implemented predictive validity tests. In addition to reporting 5 × 5 km estimates, we also aggregated results obtained from these estimates into three different levels—national, and subnational administrative levels 1 and 2—to provide the full range of geospatial resolution that local, national, and global decision makers might require. Findings Amid improving child survival in Africa, there was substantial heterogeneity in absolute levels of under-5 and neonatal mortality in 2015, as well as the annualised rates of decline achieved from 2000 to 2015. Subnational areas in countries such as Botswana, Rwanda, and Ethiopia recorded some of the largest decreases in child mortality rates since 2000, positioning them well to achieve SDG targets by 2030 or earlier. Yet these places were the exception for Africa, since many areas, particularly in central and western Africa, must reduce under-5 mortality rates by at least 8·8% per year, between 2015 and 2030, to achieve the SDG 3.2 target for under-5 mortality by 2030. Interpretation In the absence of unprecedented political commitment, financial support, and medical advances, the viability of SDG 3.2 achievement in Africa is precarious at best. By producing under-5 and neonatal mortality rates at multiple levels of geospatial resolution over time, this study provides key information for decision makers to target interventions at populations in the greatest need. In an era when precision public health increasingly has the potential to transform the design, implementation, and impact of health programmes, our 5 × 5 km estimates of child mortality in Africa provide a baseline against which local, national, and global stakeholders can map the pathways for ending preventable child deaths by 2030.

  • Large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies five loci for lean body mass.

    18 January 2018

    Lean body mass, consisting mostly of skeletal muscle, is important for healthy aging. We performed a genome-wide association study for whole body (20 cohorts of European ancestry with n = 38,292) and appendicular (arms and legs) lean body mass (n = 28,330) measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry or bioelectrical impedance analysis, adjusted for sex, age, height, and fat mass. Twenty-one single-nucleotide polymorphisms were significantly associated with lean body mass either genome wide (p < 5 × 10(-8)) or suggestively genome wide (p < 2.3 × 10(-6)). Replication in 63,475 (47,227 of European ancestry) individuals from 33 cohorts for whole body lean body mass and in 45,090 (42,360 of European ancestry) subjects from 25 cohorts for appendicular lean body mass was successful for five single-nucleotide polymorphisms in/near HSD17B11, VCAN, ADAMTSL3, IRS1, and FTO for total lean body mass and for three single-nucleotide polymorphisms in/near VCAN, ADAMTSL3, and IRS1 for appendicular lean body mass. Our findings provide new insight into the genetics of lean body mass.Lean body mass is a highly heritable trait and is associated with various health conditions. Here, Kiel and colleagues perform a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for whole body lean body mass and find five novel genetic loci to be significantly associated.