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1.  Rabies and Canine Distemper Virus Epidemics in the Red Fox Population of Northern Italy (2006–2010) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61588.
Since 2006 the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) population in north-eastern Italy has experienced an epidemic of canine distemper virus (CDV). Additionally, in 2008, after a thirteen-year absence from Italy, fox rabies was re-introduced in the Udine province at the national border with Slovenia. Disease intervention strategies are being developed and implemented to control rabies in this area and minimise risk to human health. Here we present empirical data and the epidemiological picture relating to these epidemics in the period 2006–2010. Of important significance for epidemiological studies of wild animals, basic mathematical models are developed to exploit information collected from the surveillance program on dead and/or living animals in order to assess the incidence of infection. These models are also used to estimate the rate of transmission of both diseases and the rate of vaccination, while correcting for a bias in early collection of CDV samples. We found that the rate of rabies transmission was roughly twice that of CDV, with an estimated effective contact between infected and susceptible fox leading to a new infection occurring once every 3 days for rabies, and once a week for CDV. We also inferred that during the early stage of the CDV epidemic, a bias in the monitoring protocol resulted in a positive sample being almost 10 times more likely to be collected than a negative sample. We estimated the rate of intake of oral vaccine at 0.006 per day, allowing us to estimate that roughly 68% of the foxes would be immunised. This was confirmed by field observations. Finally we discuss the implications for the eco-epidemiological dynamics of both epidemics in relation to control measures.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061588
PMCID: PMC3632604  PMID: 23630599
2.  Lyssavirus Detection and Typing Using Pyrosequencing▿#‖ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):1932-1938.
Rabies is a fatal zoonosis caused by a nonsegmented negative-strand RNA virus, namely, rabies virus (RABV). Apart from RABV, at least 10 additional species are known as rabies-related lyssaviruses (RRVs), and some of them are responsible for occasional spillovers into humans. More lyssaviruses have also been detected recently in different bat ecosystems, thanks to the application of molecular diagnostic methods. Due to the variety of the members of the genus Lyssavirus, there is the necessity to develop a reliable molecular assay for rabies diagnosis able to detect and differentiate among the existing rabies and rabies-related viruses. In the present study, a pyrosequencing protocol targeting the 3′ terminus of the nucleoprotein (N) gene was applied for the rapid characterization of lyssaviruses. Correct identification of species was achieved for each sample tested. Results from the pyrosequencing assay were also confirmed by those obtained using the Sanger sequencing method. A pan-lyssavirus one-step reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was developed within the framework of the pyrosequencing procedure. The sensitivity (Se) of the one-step RT-PCR assay was determined by using in vitro-transcribed RNA and serial dilutions of titrated viruses. The assay demonstrated high analytical and relative specificity (Sp) (98.94%) and sensitivity (99.71%). To date, this is the first case in which pyrosequencing has been applied for lyssavirus identification using a cheaper diagnostic approach than the one for all the other protocols for rapid typing that we are acquainted with. Results from this study indicate that this procedure is suitable for lyssavirus detection in samples of both human and animal origin.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02015-10
PMCID: PMC3122702  PMID: 21389152
3.  Serologic Evidence of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Infection in Dogs, Italy 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(12):2019-2021.
doi:10.3201/eid1612.100514
PMCID: PMC3294551  PMID: 21122255
pandemic (H1N1) 2009; influenza A virus; viruses; dogs; Italy; letter
4.  Reassortant Avian Influenza Virus (H5N1) in Poultry, Nigeria, 2007 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(4):637-640.
Reassortant Influenza Virus (H5N1) in Poultry, Nigeria, 2007
Genetic characterization of a selection of influenza virus (H5N1) samples, circulating in 8 Nigerian states over a 39-day period in early 2007, indicates that a new reassortant strain is present in 7 of the 8 states. Our study reports an entirely different influenza virus (H5N1) reassortant becoming predominant and widespread in poultry.
doi:10.3201/eid1404.071178
PMCID: PMC2570913  PMID: 18394282
H5N1; avian influenza; Nigeria; reassortant; phylogenetic analysis; dispatch

Results 1-4 (4)