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  1. Ransangan J, Manin BO
    Vet Microbiol, 2012 Apr 23;156(1-2):16-44.
    PMID: 22051446 DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.10.002
    Betanodavirus is the causative agent of the viral nervous necrosis (VNN) or viral encephalopathy and retinopathy disease in marine fish. This disease is responsible for most of the mass mortalities that occurred in marine fish hatcheries in Malaysia. The genome of this virus consists of two positive-sense RNA molecules which are the RNA1 and RNA2. The RNA1 molecule contains the RdRp gene which encodes for the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and the RNA2 molecule contains the Cp gene which encodes for the viral coat protein. In this study, total RNAs were extracted from 32 fish specimens representing the four most cultured marine fish species in Malaysia. The fish specimens were collected from different hatcheries and aquaculture farms in Malaysia. The RNA1 was successfully amplified using three pairs of overlapping PCR primers whereas the RNA2 was amplified using a pair of primers. The nucleotide analysis of RdRp gene revealed that the Betanodavirus in Malaysia were 94.5-99.7% similar to the RGNNV genotype, 79.8-82.1% similar to SJNNV genotype, 81.5-82.4% similar to BFNNV genotype and 79.8-80.7% similar to TPNNV genotype. However, they showed lower similarities to FHV (9.4-14.2%) and BBV (7.2-15.7%), respectively. Similarly, the Cp gene revealed that the viruses showed high nucleotide similarity to RGNNV (95.9-99.8%), SJNNV (72.2-77.4%), BFNNV (80.9-83.5%), TPNNV (77.2-78.1%) and TNV (75.1-76.5%). However, as in the RdRp gene, the coat protein gene was highly dissimilar to FHV (3.0%) and BBV (2.6-4.1%), respectively. Based on the genome analysis, the Betanodavirus infecting cultured marine fish species in Malaysia belong to the RGNNV genotype. However, the phylogenetic analysis of the genes revealed that the viruses can be further divided into nine sub-groups. This has been expected since various marine fish species of different origins are cultured in Malaysia.
  2. Ransangan J, Manin BO
    Vet Microbiol, 2010 Sep 28;145(1-2):153-7.
    PMID: 20427132 DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2010.03.016
    Culture of Asian seabass, Lates calcarifer (Bloch) is a popular aquaculture activity in Malaysia. This fish is in high demand and fetches a good price in the local market. The seed for this fish is commercially produced by induced spawning in hatcheries. However, the seed supply is affected by frequent mass mortality of larvae aged between 15 and 60 dph. The clinical signs shown by the affected larvae include lethargy, loss of appetite, uncoordinated swimming, unusual spiral movement pattern and dark coloration. Histological examination of brain and eye of the affected specimens revealed extensive cell vacuolation in larvae aged 15-25 dph. Partial nucleotide sequence of the nervous necrosis virus coat protein gene of the affected larvae showed 94.0-96.1% homology to the nucleotide sequences of coat protein gene from nervous necrosis virus isolated from other countries in the Southeast Asia and Australia. This study provides scientific evidence based on molecular technique that many episodes of mass mortality in seabass larvae in Sabah is associated with the viral nervous necrosis. Because no effective treatment has been reported for this infection, stringent biosecurity measures must be adopted for exclusion of the pathogen from the culture system.
  3. Manin BO, Drakeley CJ, Chua TH
    PLoS One, 2018;13(8):e0202905.
    PMID: 30138386 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202905
    Anopheles balabacensis, the primary vector of Plasmodium knowlesi in Sabah, Malaysia, is both zoophilic and anthropophilic, feeding on macaques as well as humans. It is the dominant Anopheles species found in Kudat Division where it is responsible for all the cases of P. knowlesi. However there is a paucity of basic biological and ecological information on this vector. We investigated the genetic variation of this species using the sequences of cox1 (1,383 bp) and cox2 (685 bp) to gain an insight into the population genetics and inter-population gene flow in Sabah. A total of 71 An. balabacensis were collected from seven districts constituting 14 subpopulations. A total of 17, 10 and 25 haplotypes were detected in the subpopulations respectively using the cox1, cox2 and the combined sequence. Some of the haplotypes were common among the subpopulations due to gene flow occurring between them. AMOVA showed that the genetic variation was high within subpopulations as compared to between subpopulations. Mantel test results showed that the variation between subpopulations was not due to the geographical distance between them. Furthermore, Tajima's D and Fu's Fs tests showed that An. balabacensis in Sabah is experiencing population expansion and growth. High gene flow between the subpopulations was indicated by the low genetic distance and high gene diversity in the cox1, cox2 and the combined sequence. However the population at Lipasu Lama appeared to be isolated possibly due to its higher altitude at 873 m above sea level.
  4. Chua TH, Manin BO, Daim S, Vythilingam I, Drakeley C
    PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 2017 Oct;11(10):e0005991.
    PMID: 28968395 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005991
    BACKGROUND: Anopheles balabacensis of the Leucospyrus group has been confirmed as the primary knowlesi malaria vector in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo for some time now. Presently, knowlesi malaria is the only zoonotic simian malaria in Malaysia with a high prevalence recorded in the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

    METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Anopheles spp. were sampled using human landing catch (HLC) method at Paradason village in Kudat district of Sabah. The collected Anopheles were identified morphologically and then subjected to total DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect Plasmodium parasites in the mosquitoes. Identification of Plasmodium spp. was confirmed by sequencing the SSU rRNA gene with species specific primers. MEGA4 software was then used to analyse the SSU rRNA sequences and bulid the phylogenetic tree for inferring the relationship between simian malaria parasites in Sabah. PCR results showed that only 1.61% (23/1,425) of the screened An. balabacensis were infected with one or two of the five simian Plasmodium spp. found in Sabah, viz. Plasmodium coatneyi, P. inui, P. fieldi, P. cynomolgi and P. knowlesi. Sequence analysis of SSU rRNA of Plasmodium isolates showed high percentage of identity within the same Plasmodium sp. group. The phylogenetic tree based on the consensus sequences of P. knowlesi showed 99.7%-100.0% nucleotide identity among the isolates from An. balabacensis, human patients and a long-tailed macaque from the same locality.

    CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This is the first study showing high molecular identity between the P. knowlesi isolates from An. balabacensis, human patients and a long-tailed macaque in Sabah. The other common simian Plasmodium spp. found in long-tailed macaques and also detected in An. balabacensis were P. coatneyi, P. inui, P. fieldi and P. cynomolgi. The high percentage identity of nucleotide sequences between the P. knowlesi isolates from the long-tailed macaque, An. balabacensis and human patients suggests a close genetic relationship between the parasites from these hosts.

  5. Manin BO, Ferguson HM, Vythilingam I, Fornace K, William T, Torr SJ, et al.
    PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 2016 Oct;10(10):e0005064.
    PMID: 27741235 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005064
    In recent years, the primate malaria Plasmodium knowlesi has emerged in human populations throughout South East Asia, with the largest hotspot being in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Control efforts are hindered by limited knowledge of where and when people get exposed to mosquito vectors. It is assumed that exposure occurs primarily when people are working in forest areas, but the role of other potential exposure routes (including domestic or peri-domestic transmission) has not been thoroughly investigated.
  6. Hawkes F, Manin BO, Ng SH, Torr SJ, Drakeley C, Chua TH, et al.
    Parasit Vectors, 2017 Jul 18;10(1):338.
    PMID: 28720113 DOI: 10.1186/s13071-017-2277-3
    BACKGROUND: Plasmodium knowlesi is found in macaques and is the only major zoonotic malaria to affect humans. Transmission of P. knowlesi between people and macaques depends on the host species preferences and feeding behavior of mosquito vectors. However, these behaviours are difficult to measure due to the lack of standardized methods for sampling potential vectors attracted to different host species. This study evaluated electrocuting net traps as a safe, standardised method for sampling P. knowlesi vectors attracted to human and macaque hosts. Field experiments were conducted within a major focus on P. knowlesi transmission in Malaysian Borneo to compare the performance of human (HENET) or macaque (MENET) odour-baited electrocuting nets, human landing catches (HLC) and monkey-baited traps (MBT) for sampling mosquitoes. The abundance and diversity of Anopheles sampled by different methods were compared over 40 nights, with a focus on the P. knowlesi vector Anopheles balabancensis.

    RESULTS: HLC caught more An. balabacensis than any other method (3.6 per night). In contrast, no An. balabacensis were collected in MBT collections, which generally performed poorly for all mosquito taxa. Anopheles vector species including An. balabacensis were sampled in both HENET and MENET collections, but at a mean abundance of less than 1 per night. There was no difference between HENET and MENET in the overall abundance (P = 0.05) or proportion (P = 0.7) of An. balabacensis. The estimated diversity of Anopheles species was marginally higher in electrocuting net than HLC collections, and similar in collections made with humans or monkey hosts.

    CONCLUSIONS: Host-baited electrocuting nets had moderate success for sampling known zoonotic malaria vectors. The primary vector An. balabacensis was collected with electrocuting nets baited both with humans and macaques, but at a considerably lower density than the HLC standard. However, electrocuting nets were considerably more successful than monkey-baited traps and representatively characterised anopheline species diversity. Consequently, their use allows inferences about relative mosquito attraction to be meaningfully interpreted while eliminating confounding factors due to trapping method. On this basis, electrocuting net traps should be considered as a useful standardised method for investigating vector contact with humans and wildlife reservoirs.

  7. Hawkes FM, Manin BO, Cooper A, Daim S, R H, Jelip J, et al.
    Sci Rep, 2019 Nov 20;9(1):17510.
    PMID: 31745193 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-53744-8
    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
  8. Hawkes FM, Manin BO, Cooper A, Daim S, R H, Jelip J, et al.
    Sci Rep, 2019 09 16;9(1):13312.
    PMID: 31527622 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-49842-2
    In lowland areas of Malaysia, Plasmodium knowlesi infection is associated with land use change and high proportions of the vector Anopheles balabacensis. We conducted a 15-month study in two Malaysian villages to determine the effect of habitat on vector populations in understudied high-altitude, high-incidence districts. Anopheles mosquitoes were sampled in human settlements, plantations and forest edges, and screened for Plasmodium species by PCR. We report the first An. donaldi positive for P. knowlesi. This potential vector was associated with habitat fragmentation measured as disturbed forest edge:area ratio, while An. balabacensis was not, indicating fragmented land use could favour An. donaldi. Anopheline species richness and diversity decreased from forest edge, to plantation, to human settlement. Greater numbers of An. balabacensis and An. donaldi were found in forest edges compared to human settlements, suggesting exposure to vectors and associated zoonoses may be greater for people entering this habitat.
  9. Chua TH, Manin BO, Vythilingam I, Fornace K, Drakeley CJ
    Parasit Vectors, 2019 Jul 25;12(1):364.
    PMID: 31345256 DOI: 10.1186/s13071-019-3627-0
    BACKGROUND: We investigated the effect of five common habitat types on the diversity and abundance of Anopheles spp. and on the biting rate and time of Anopheles balabacensis (currently the only known vector for Plasmodium knowlesi in Sabah) at Paradason village, Kudat, Sabah. The habitats were forest edge, playground area, longhouse, oil palm plantation and shrub-bushes area. Sampling of Anopheles was done monthly using the human landing catch method in all habitat types for 14 months (October 2013 to December 2014, excluding June 2014). The Anopheles species were morphologically identified and subjected to PCR assay for the detection of Plasmodium parasites. Generalised linear mixed models (GLMM) were applied to test the variation in abundance and biting rates of An. balabacensis in different habitat types.

    RESULTS: A total of 1599 Anopheles specimens were collected in the village, of which about 90% were An. balabacensis. Anopheles balabacensis was present throughout the year and was the dominant Anopheles species in all habitat types. The shrub bushes habitat had the highest Anopheles species diversity while forest edge had the greatest number of Anopheles individuals caught. GLMM analysis indicated that An. balabacensis abundance was not affected by the type of habitats, and it was more active during the early and late night compared to predawn and dawn. PCR assay showed that 1.61% of the tested An. balabacensis were positive for malaria parasites, most of which were caught in oil palm estates and infected with one to two Plasmodium species.

    CONCLUSIONS: The identification of infected vectors in a range of habitats, including agricultural and farming areas, illustrates the potential for humans to be exposed to P. knowlesi outside forested areas. This finding contributes to a growing body of evidence implicating environmental changes due to deforestation, expansion of agricultural and farming areas, and development of human settlements near to forest fringes in the emergence of P. knowlesi in Sabah.

  10. Wong ML, Ahmed MA, Sulaiman WYW, Manin BO, Leong CS, Quan FS, et al.
    Infect Genet Evol, 2019 09;73:26-32.
    PMID: 30999059 DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2019.04.010
    We explored and constructed haplotype network for simian malaria species: Plasmodium knowlesi, P. cynomolgi and P. inui aiming to understand the transmission dynamics between mosquitoes, humans and macaques. Mosquitoes were collected from villages in an area where zoonotic malaria is prevalent. PCR analysis confirmed Anopheles balabacensis as the main vector for macaque parasites, moreover nearly 60% of the mosquitoes harboured more than one Plasmodium species. Fragments of the A-type small subunit ribosomal RNA (SS rRNA) amplified from salivary gland sporozoites, and equivalent sequences obtained from GenBank were used to construct haplotype networks. The patterns were consistent with the presence of geographically distinct populations for P. inui and P. cynomolgi, and with three discrete P. knowlesi populations. This study provides a preliminary snapshot of the structure of these populations, that was insufficient to answer our aim. Thus, collection of parasites from their various hosts and over time, associated with a systematic analysis of a set of genetical loci is strongly advocated in order to obtain a clear picture of the parasite population and the flow between different hosts. This is important to devise measures that will minimise the risk of transmission to humans, because zoonotic malaria impedes malaria elimination.
  11. Hambali NL, Mohd Noh M, Paramasivam S, Chua TH, Hayati F, Payus AO, et al.
    Front Public Health, 2020;8:584552.
    PMID: 33304877 DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.584552
    Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is one of the markers of immune system activation indicating existent infection and inflammation. We present here a case of a 55-year-old male COVID-19 patient with an unusual high level of interleukin 6 (IL-6). Further investigation revealed he had hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with underlying hepatitis B. He did not present with respiratory symptoms although a baseline chest x-ray showed changes, and the patient was categorized as Class 3A of COVID-19. Routine investigations proceeded with high-resolution computed tomography and IL-6 to monitor for progression to severe COVID-19. Notably, there was a high IL-6 level but other parameters did not show he was in severe COVID-19. In this report, we conclude that elevated IL-6 level in a COVID-19 patient is not necessarily associated with severe COVID-19.
  12. Fornace KM, Alexander N, Abidin TR, Brock PM, Chua TH, Vythilingam I, et al.
    Elife, 2019 10 22;8.
    PMID: 31638575 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47602
    Human movement into insect vector and wildlife reservoir habitats determines zoonotic disease risks; however, few data are available to quantify the impact of land use on pathogen transmission. Here, we utilise GPS tracking devices and novel applications of ecological methods to develop fine-scale models of human space use relative to land cover to assess exposure to the zoonotic malaria Plasmodium knowlesi in Malaysian Borneo. Combining data with spatially explicit models of mosquito biting rates, we demonstrate the role of individual heterogeneities in local space use in disease exposure. At a community level, our data indicate that areas close to both secondary forest and houses have the highest probability of human P. knowlesi exposure, providing quantitative evidence for the importance of ecotones. Despite higher biting rates in forests, incorporating human movement and space use into exposure estimates illustrates the importance of intensified interactions between pathogens, insect vectors and people around habitat edges.
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