Estimating #cholera #incidence with cross-sectional #serology (Sci Transl Med., abstract)

[Source: Science Translational Medicine, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Estimating cholera incidence with cross-sectional serology

Andrew S. Azman1,*, Justin Lessler1, Francisco J. Luquero2,3, Taufiqur Rahman Bhuiyan4, Ashraful Islam Khan4, Fahima Chowdhury4, Alamgir Kabir4, Marc Gurwith5, Ana A. Weil6,7, Jason B. Harris6,8,9, Stephen B. Calderwood6,7, Edward T. Ryan6,7,10, Firdausi Qadri4 and Daniel T. Leung11,12

1 Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. 2 Epicentre, Paris 75012, France. 3 Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. 4 Infectious Diseases Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh. 5 PaxVax Inc., Redwood City, CA 94065, USA. 6 Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA . 7 Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 8 Division of Global Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA. 9 Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 10 Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 11 Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA. 12 Division of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA.

*Corresponding author. Email:

Science Translational Medicine  20 Feb 2019: Vol. 11, Issue 480, eaau6242 / DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau6242


Estimating the true prevalence of cholera

Successful development of anti-cholera measures requires accurate estimates of infection incidence. Reporting of cholera cases, however, typically relies on clinical assessment at the time of patient presentation and can be problematized by lack of access to health care and variable, nonspecific symptomatology. Combining a small number of serological markers with machine learning methods, Azman et al. were able to accurately detect individuals who had had cholera infections within the previous year. Simulated serosurveys showed that this simple antibody-based approach could potentially be used as an alternative method to estimate cholera incidence in a population.



The development of new approaches to cholera control relies on an accurate understanding of cholera epidemiology. However, most information on cholera incidence lacks laboratory confirmation and instead relies on surveillance systems reporting medically attended acute watery diarrhea. If recent infections could be identified using serological markers, cross-sectional serosurveys would offer an alternative approach to measuring incidence. Here, we used 1569 serologic samples from a cohort of cholera cases and their uninfected contacts in Bangladesh to train machine learning models to identify recent Vibrio cholerae O1 infections. We found that an individual’s antibody profile contains information on the timing of V. choleraeO1 infections in the previous year. Our models using six serological markers accurately identified individuals in the Bangladesh cohort infected within the last year [cross-validated area under the curve (AUC), 93.4%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 92.1 to 94.7%], with a marginal performance decrease using models based on two markers (cross-validated AUC, 91.0%; 95% CI, 89.2 to 92.7%). We validated the performance of the two-marker model on data from a cohort of North American volunteers challenged with V. cholerae O1 (AUC range, 88.4 to 98.4%). In simulated serosurveys, our models accurately estimated annual incidence in both endemic and epidemic settings, even with sample sizes as small as 500 and annual incidence as low as two infections per 1000 individuals. Cross-sectional serosurveys may be a viable approach to estimating cholera incidence.

Keywords: Vibrio cholerae; Cholera; Serology.


Published by

Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum ( in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.