News / Africa

Bacterium Targets HIV-Positive People

Salmonella Typhimurium (Credit: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute)
Salmonella Typhimurium (Credit: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute)
Joe DeCapua
Researchers are warning of an emerging form of intestinal disease in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s targeting mostly HIV-infected people, who are not on treatment. The disease kills up to 45 percent of those infected.


The disease can be found in all corners of sub-Saharan Africa, according to Chinyere Okoro of Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

“It’s an invasive disease. It’s a disease that is found in the bloodstream and can invade other internal organs of the patient. It’s caused by a bacterium known as Salmonella Typhimurium. Incidentally, Salmonella Typhimurium in healthy individuals usually results in gastroenteritis, which one of the symptoms will be diarrhea. So, most people would not need extensive treatment or hospitalization of any of that,” she said.

But Salmonella Typhimurium, she said, causes an illness much less like gastroenteritis and more like typhoid in those with compromised immune systems.

“When I mean immune-compromised individuals, I mean people whose immune system is compromised by an existing disease. In this case it’s mostly HIV and in children, who are currently infected with [the] malaria parasite or are malnourished,” she said.

The disease progresses rapidly and can kill in a matter of days.

Okoro said that people, who are receiving antiretroviral therapy, or ART, for HIV infection, are less likely to become infected with Salmonella Typhimurium.

“With appropriate treatment, the individual’s immune system is not as compromised as would be required for the disease to take hold so to speak. So, if ART is available, we expect to see a reduce rate of transmission and incident rates as a result,” she said.

A DNA analysis of the bacterium shows it first emerged in two waves. The first occurred about 50 years ago in southeastern Africa, and the next about 35 years ago, possibly from the Congo Basin. These are similar to the routes taken by HIV.

Okoro said, at first, it was an opportunist infection attacking HIV-positive people. She says now it has found a home among those not on treatment.

Over the past decade, the disease was initially treated with the antibiotic chloramphenicol. However, the bacterium quickly built up a resistance to the drug. That contributed to the disease’s rapid spread among HIV-positive people.

Okoro said the disease can be treated with newer, more powerful and more expensive antibiotics where available.

“What this analysis actually does show very clearly is how pathogens can emerge rapidly given the right conditions and what needs to be done,” she said.

So, getting more HIV-positive Africans on antiretrovirals could help stem the spread of the intestinal disease. The same holds true for better malaria treatment and nutrition for young children.

The exact route of transmission remains unknown, however. Okoro said, right now, it appears the disease is not spread through the food chain.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More