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

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora