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Integrated view of Vibrio cholerae in the Americas

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Science  10 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6364, pp. 789-793
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao2136

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Wave upon wave of disease

The cholera pathogen, Vibrio cholerae, is considered to be ubiquitous in water systems, making the design of eradication measures apparently fruitless. Nevertheless, local and global Vibrio populations remain distinct. Now, Weill et al. and Domman et al. show that a surprising diversity between continents has been established. Latin America and Africa bear different variants of cholera toxin with different transmission dynamics and ecological niches. The data are not consistent with the establishment of long-term reservoirs of pandemic cholera or with a relationship to climate events.

Science, this issue p. 785, p. 789

Abstract

Latin America has experienced two of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history; one in 1991 and the other in 2010. However, confusion still surrounds the relationships between globally circulating pandemic Vibrio cholerae clones and local bacterial populations. We used whole-genome sequencing to characterize cholera across the Americas over a 40-year time span. We found that both epidemics were the result of intercontinental introductions of seventh pandemic El Tor V. cholerae and that at least seven lineages local to the Americas are associated with disease that differs epidemiologically from epidemic cholera. Our results consolidate historical accounts of pandemic cholera with data to show the importance of local lineages, presenting an integrated view of cholera that is important to the design of future disease control strategies.

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