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Mycobacterium ulcerans persistence at a village water source of Buruli ulcer patients

Bratschi, Martin W. and Ruf, Marie-Thérèse and Andreoli, Arianna and Minyem, Jacques C. and Kerber, Sarah and Wantong, Fidèle G. and Pritchard, James and Chakwera, Victoria and Beuret, Christian and Wittwer, Matthias and Noumen, Djeunga and Schürch, Nadia and Um Book, Alphonse and Pluschke, Gerd. (2014) Mycobacterium ulcerans persistence at a village water source of Buruli ulcer patients. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, Vol. 8, H. 3 , e2756.

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Abstract

Buruli ulcer (BU), a neglected tropical disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans and is the third most common mycobacterial disease after tuberculosis and leprosy. While there is a strong association of the occurrence of the disease with stagnant or slow flowing water bodies, the exact mode of transmission of BU is not clear. M. ulcerans has emerged from the environmental fish pathogen M. marinum by acquisition of a virulence plasmid encoding the enzymes required for the production of the cytotoxic macrolide toxin mycolactone, which is a key factor in the pathogenesis of BU. Comparative genomic studies have further shown extensive pseudogene formation and downsizing of the M. ulcerans genome, indicative for an adaptation to a more stable ecological niche. This has raised the question whether this pathogen is still present in water-associated environmental reservoirs. Here we show persistence of M. ulcerans specific DNA sequences over a period of more than two years at a water contact location of BU patients in an endemic village of Cameroon. At defined positions in a shallow water hole used by the villagers for washing and bathing, detritus remained consistently positive for M. ulcerans DNA. The observed mean real-time PCR Ct difference of 1.45 between the insertion sequences IS2606 and IS2404 indicated that lineage 3 M. ulcerans, which cause human disease, persisted in this environment after successful treatment of all local patients. Underwater decaying organic matter may therefore represent a reservoir of M. ulcerans for direct infection of skin lesions or vector-associated transmission.
Faculties and Departments:09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Department of Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology (MPI) > Molecular Immunology (Pluschke)
UniBasel Contributors:Bratschi, Martin and Ruf, Marie-Thérèse and Pluschke, Gerd
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1935-2727
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:31 Dec 2015 10:56
Deposited On:18 Jul 2014 09:10

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