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author:("kap, natalia")
1.  Prevalence of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus in Healthy Population, Livestock and Ticks in Kosovo 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e110982.
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is an acute, tick borne disease often associated with hemorrhagic presentations and high case fatality rate. Kosovo is a highly endemic area for CCHF, with a significant case fatality rate. The aim of our study was to determine the prevalence of CCHF in Kosovo. We tested 1105 serum samples from healthy population in both endemic and non-endemic areas in the country. Our results revealed a seroprevalence of 4.0% (range 0–9.3%) which is comparable to the seroprevalence in other countries. We show that seroprevalence is correlated to the disease incidence in each studied municipality. We also tested 401 animal sera (353 cow, 30 sheep, 10 goat and 8 chicken) in four endemic municipalities in Kosovo. We detected specific antibodies in all animals except in chicken. Seroprevalence in cows is comparable to other endemic areas and correlates to the seroprevalence in humans. No CCHF RNA could be detected in 105 tick samples obtained in 2012 and 2013. Sequencing of CCHFV positive ticks from 2001 revealed that the virus is most closely related to viral strains that were detected in CCHF patients from Kosovo. Results suggest that mild CCHF cases are most probably underdiagnosed and consequently that the burden of disease is higher than reported. Our study provides key information for CCHF surveillance and raises awareness for possible imported cases in CCHF non-endemic countries.
PMCID: PMC4230912  PMID: 25393542
2.  Phylogeographic Diversity of Pathogenic and Non-Pathogenic Hantaviruses in Slovenia 
Viruses  2013;5(12):3071-3087.
Slovenia is a very diverse country from a natural geography point of view, with many different habitats within a relatively small area, in addition to major geological and climatic differences. It is therefore not surprising that several small mammal species have been confirmed to harbour hantaviruses: A. flavicollis (Dobrava virus), A. agrarius (Dobrava virus–Kurkino), M. glareolus (Puumala virus), S. areanus (Seewis virus), M. agrestis, M. arvalis and M. subterraneus (Tula virus). Three of the viruses, namely the Dobrava, Dobrava–Kurkino and Puumala viruses, cause disease in humans, with significant differences in the severity of symptoms. Due to changes in haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome cases (HFRS) epidemiology, a detailed study on phylogenetic diversity and molecular epidemiology of pathogenic and non-pathogenic hantaviruses circulating in ecologically diverse endemic regions was performed. The study presents one of the largest collections of hantavirus L, M and S sequences obtained from hosts and patients within a single country. Several genetic lineages were determined for each hantavirus species, with higher diversity among non-pathogenic compared to pathogenic viruses. For pathogenic hantaviruses, a significant geographic clustering of human- and rodent-derived sequences was confirmed. Several geographic and ecological factors were recognized as influencing and limiting the formation of endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC3967161  PMID: 24335778
hantavirus; Slovenia; epidemiology; genetic diversity; phylogeography
3.  Correlation of TBE Incidence with Red Deer and Roe Deer Abundance in Slovenia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66380.
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a virus infection which sometimes causes human disease. The TBE virus is found in ticks and certain vertebrate tick hosts in restricted endemic localities termed TBE foci. The formation of natural foci is a combination of several factors: the vectors, a suitable and numerous enough number of hosts and in a habitat with suitable vegetation and climate. The present study investigated the influence of deer on the incidence of tick-borne encephalitis. We were able to obtain data from deer culls. Using this data, the abundance of deer was estimated and temporal and spatial analysis was performed. The abundance of deer has increased in the past decades, as well as the incidence of tick-borne encephalitis. Temporal analysis confirmed a correlation between red deer abundance and tick-borne encephalitis occurrence. Additionally, spatial analysis established, that in areas with high incidence of tick-borne encephalitis red deer density is higher, compared to areas with no or few human cases of tick-borne encephalitis. However, such correlation could not be confirmed between roe deer density and the incidence of tick-borne encephalitis. This is presumably due to roe deer density being above a certain threshold so that availability of tick reproduction hosts has no apparent effect on ticks' host finding and consequently may not be possible to correlate with incidence of human TBE.
PMCID: PMC3679065  PMID: 23776668
4.  Phylogeographic Characterization of Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus from Patients, Rodents and Ticks in Slovenia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48420.
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is the most important arboviral agent causing infections of the central nervous system in central Europe. Previous studies have shown that TBEV exhibits pronounced genetic variability, which is often correlated to the geographical origin of TBEV. Genetic variability of TBEV has previously been studied predominantly in rodents and ticks, while information about the variability in patients is scarce. In order to understand the molecular relationships of TBEV between natural hosts, vectors and humans, as well as correlation between phylogenetic and geographical clustering, sequences of TBEV E and NS5 protein genes, were obtained by direct sequencing of RT-PCR products from TBE-confirmed patients as well as from rodents and ticks collected from TBE-endemic regions in Slovenia. A total of 27 partial E protein gene sequences representing 15 human, 4 rodent and 8 tick samples and 30 partial NS5 protein gene sequences representing 17 human, 5 rodent and 8 tick samples were obtained. The complete genome sequence of TBEV strain Ljubljana I was simultaneously obtained. Phylogenetic analysis of the E and NS5 protein gene sequences revealed a high degree of TBEV variability in patients, ticks and rodents. Furthermore, an evident correlation between geographical and phylogenetic clustering was shown that was independent of the TBEV host. Moreover, we show the presence of a possible recombination event in the TBEV genome obtained from a patient sample, which was supported with multiple recombination event detection methods. This is the first study that simultaneously analyzed the genetic relationships of directly sequenced TBEV samples from patients, ticks and rodents and provides the largest set of patient-derived TBEV sequences up to date. In addition, we have confirmed the geographical clustering of TBEV sequences in Slovenia and have provided evidence of a possible recombination event in the TBEV genome, obtained from a patient.
PMCID: PMC3502456  PMID: 23185257
5.  Anaplasma phagocytophilum in ticks in Slovenia 
Parasites & Vectors  2010;3:102.
Ticks act as vectors of many pathogens of domestic animals and humans. Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Europe is transmitted by the ixodid tick vector Ixodes ricinus. A. phagocytophilum causes a disease with diverse clinical signs in various hosts. A great genetic diversity of the groESL operon of A. phagocytophilum has been found in ticks elsewhere. In Slovenia, the variety of the groESL operon was conducted only on deer samples. In this study, the prevalence of infected ticks was estimated and the diversity of A. phagocytophilum was evaluated. On 8 locations in Slovenia, 1924 and 5049 (6973) I. ricinus ticks were collected from vegetation in the years 2005 and 2006, respectively. All three feeding stages of the tick's life cycle were examined. The prevalence of ticks infected with A. phagocytophilum in the year 2005 and in the year 2006 was 0.31% and 0.63%, respectively, and it did not differ considerably between locations. The similarity among the sequences of groESL ranged from 95.6% to 99.8%. They clustered in two genetic lineages along with A. phagocytophilum from Slovenian deer. One sequence formed a separate cluster. According to our study, the prevalence of A. phagocytophilum in ticks is comparable to the findings in other studies in Europe, and it does not vary considerably between locations and tick stages. According to groESL operon analysis, two genetic lineages have been confirmed and one proposed. Further studies on other genes would be useful to obtain more information on genetic diversity of A. phagocytophilum in ticks in Slovenia.
PMCID: PMC2988007  PMID: 21050436

Results 1-5 (5)