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1.  Hepatitis E virus seroprevalence among the general population in a livestock-dense area in the Netherlands: a cross-sectional population-based serological survey 
Recent serological studies indicate that hepatitis E virus (HEV) is endemic in industrialised countries. The increasing trend in the number of autochthonous cases of HEV genotype 3 in Western European countries, stresses the importance to get insight in the exact routes of exposure. Pigs are the main animal reservoir, and zoonotic food-borne transmission of HEV is proven. However, infected pigs can excrete large amounts of virus via their faeces enabling environmental transmission of HEV to humans. This might pose a risk for of neighbouring residents of livestock farming.
Within a large study on the health of people living in the vicinity of livestock farming we performed a cross-sectional population-based serological survey among 2,494 non-farming adults from the general population in a livestock-dense area in the south of the Netherlands. Participants completed risk factor questionnaires and blood samples of 2,422 subjects (median age 58 years, range 20–72) were tested for anti-HEV IgG using an enzyme immune assay (Wantai). The aim of this study was to determine the HEV seroprevalence and to assess whether seropositivity in adults was associated with living in the vicinity of pig farms.
The average seroprevalence of HEV was 28.7% (95% CI: 26.9–30.5). Determinants associated with an increased risk for HEV seropositivity were male gender and low level of education. There was a clear trend of increasing prevalence with increasing age (Chi-square test for linear trend, X2 = 83.1; p < 0.001). A high number of pigs within 1,000 m of the residential address was not a risk factor for seropositivity.
This study confirmed the high HEV seroprevalence (29%) in the general population of the Netherlands, but presence of antibodies was not associated with residential proximity to pig farms. The prevalence increased with age from 10% in adolescents to 33% among those aged 50 and above, supporting the assumption of a cumulative lifetime exposure to HEV in the Netherlands as well as a higher infection pressure in the past. Our findings cannot refute the assumption that transmission is primarily food-borne.
PMCID: PMC5217153  PMID: 28056844
Hepatitis E virus; Environmental exposure; Livestock; Seroprevalence; Zoonoses
2.  First human case of tick-borne encephalitis virus infection acquired in the Netherlands, July 2016 
Eurosurveillance  2016;21(33):30318.
In July 2016, the first autochthonous case of tick-borne encephalitis was diagnosed in the Netherlands, five days after a report that tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) had been found in Dutch ticks. A person in their 60s without recent travel history suffered from neurological symptoms after a tick bite. TBEV serology was positive and the tick was positive in TBEV qRT-PCR. TBEV infection should be considered in patients with compatible symptoms in the Netherlands.
PMCID: PMC4998423  PMID: 27562931
tick-borne diseases; emerging diseases; Flaviviridae; public health; viral encephalitis; viral infections
3.  Zika virus infection in 18 travellers returning from Surinam and the Dominican Republic, The Netherlands, November 2015–March 2016 
Infection  2016;44(6):797-802.
We report 18 cases of confirmed Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in travellers returning to the Netherlands from Surinam (South America, bordering northern Brazil) and the Dominican Republic.
In a multi-centre study, we collected epidemiological, virological and clinical characteristics, as well as data on travel history, underlying illness and laboratory results of the 18 imported ZIKV infection cases using a standardised form.
Most cases had a self-limiting course of disease, two patients developed complications, one had Guillain–Barré and another had severe thrombocytopenia. Four patients had underlying illness. One of the reported cases was pregnant. Three of 13 patients tested had a weak-positive result for dengue IgM. The majority of patients were born in Suriname and/or visiting friends and relatives (VFR).
Providing pre-travel advice among travellers, especially VFR travellers, is needed to enhance the use of preventive measures against ZIKV infection. Further evidence on health risks associated with ZIKV infection is urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC5121170  PMID: 27209175
Imported viral diseases; Netherlands; Zika virus; Travel; Surinam; Dominican Republic
4.  Neuralgic amyotrophy and hepatitis E virus infection 
Neurology  2014;82(6):498-503.
To determine whether there is an association between an acute preceding hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection and neuralgic amyotrophy (NA), and if so, whether patients with HEV-related NA differ from patients without an associated HEV infection.
HEV testing was conducted in a retrospective cohort of 28 Cornish patients with NA (2011–2013) and a prospective cohort of 38 consecutive Dutch patients with NA (2004–2007). Acute-phase serum samples were analyzed for the presence of anti-HEV immunoglobulin (Ig) M and IgG and HEV RNA (quantitative real-time PCR).
Five cases (10.6%) of acute hepatitis E infection were identified in a total group of 47 patients with NA of whom serum samples were available. In 4 patients, HEV RNA was detected in serum samples taken at presentation. All patients with HEV-associated NA had clinical and electrophysiologic evidence of bilateral brachial plexus involvement. Anti-HEV IgM positivity was not related to age, sex, disease severity, disease course, or outcome.
Acute hepatitis E is found in 10% of patients with NA from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Further research is required to investigate the role of HEV in NA in other geographical locations and to determine pathophysiologic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3937863  PMID: 24401685
5.  Small risk of developing symptomatic tick-borne diseases following a tick bite in the Netherlands 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:17.
In The Netherlands, the incidence of Lyme borreliosis is on the rise. Besides its causative agent, Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., other potential pathogens like Rickettsia, Babesia and Ehrlichia species are present in Ixodes ricinus ticks. The risk of disease associated with these microorganisms after tick-bites remains, however, largely unclear. A prospective study was performed to investigate how many persons with tick-bites develop localized or systemic symptoms and whether these are associated with tick-borne microorganisms.
In total, 297 Ixodes ricinus ticks were collected from 246 study participants who consulted a general practitioner on the island of Ameland for tick bites. Ticks were subjected to PCR to detect DNA of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Rickettsia spp., Babesia spp. or Ehrlichia/Anaplasma spp.. Sixteen percent of the collected ticks were positive for Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., 19% for Rickettsia spp., 12% for Ehrlichia/Anaplasma spp. and 10% for Babesia spp.. At least six months after the tick bite, study participants were interviewed on symptoms by means of a standard questionnaire. 14 out of 193 participants (8.3%) reported reddening at the bite site and 6 participants (4.1%) reported systemic symptoms. No association between symptoms and tick-borne microorganisms was found. Attachment duration ≥24 h was positively associated with reddening at the bite site and systemic symptoms. Using logistic regression techniques, reddening was positively correlated with presence of Borrelia afzelii, and having 'any symptoms' was positively associated with attachment duration.
The risk of contracting acute Lyme borreliosis, rickettsiosis, babesiosis or ehrlichiosis from a single tick bite was <1% in this study population.
PMCID: PMC3050846  PMID: 21310036
6.  Changes in Small Intestinal Homeostasis, Morphology, and Gene Expression during Rotavirus Infection of Infant Mice 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(24):13005-13016.
Rotavirus is the most important cause of infantile gastroenteritis. Since in vivo mucosal responses to a rotavirus infection thus far have not been extensively studied, we related viral replication in the murine small intestine to alterations in mucosal structure, epithelial cell homeostasis, cellular kinetics, and differentiation. Seven-day-old suckling BALB/c mice were inoculated with 2 × 104 focus-forming units of murine rotavirus and were compared to mock-infected controls. Diarrheal illness and viral shedding were recorded, and small intestinal tissue was evaluated for rotavirus (NSP4 and structural proteins)- and enterocyte-specific (lactase, SGLT1, and L-FABP) mRNA and protein expression. Morphology, apoptosis, proliferation, and migration were evaluated (immuno)histochemically. Diarrhea was observed from days 1 to 5 postinfection, and viral shedding was observed from days 1 to 10. Two peaks of rotavirus replication were observed at 1 and 4 days postinfection. Histological changes were characterized by the accumulation of vacuolated enterocytes. Strikingly, the number of vacuolated cells exceeded the number of cells in which viral replication was detectable. Apoptosis and proliferation were increased from days 1 to 7, resulting in villous atrophy. Epithelial cell turnover was significantly higher (<4 days) than that observed in controls (7 days). Since epithelial renewal occurred within 4 days, the second peak of viral replication was most likely caused by infection of newly synthesized cells. Expression of enterocyte-specific genes was downregulated in infected cells at mRNA and protein levels starting as early as 6 h after infection. In conclusion, we show for the first time that rotavirus infection induces apoptosis in vivo, an increase in epithelial cell turnover, and a shutoff of gene expression in enterocytes showing viral replication. The shutoff of enterocyte-specific gene expression, together with the loss of mature enterocytes through apoptosis and the replacement of these cells by less differentiated dividing cells, likely leads to a defective absorptive function of the intestinal epithelium, which contributes to rotavirus pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC296055  PMID: 14645557
7.  Genetic Basis for Immunological Aberrations in Poliovirus Sabin Serotype 3 Strains Imported in The Netherlands 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(8):2393-2398.
During the characterization of poliovirus type 3 strains imported in The Netherlands, Sabin serotype 3 strains that reacted with both specific antisera against Sabin-like (vaccine) and non-Sabin-like (wild-type) strains by the intratypic strain differentiation assay have been found. The present study was done to determine the pathogenic potential of these virus strains for humans. Characterization of these so-called double-reactive strains with neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against the major antigenic sites of serotype 3 Sabin virus led to the identification of two groups with different antigenic properties. Six of the seven strains were resistant to neutralization with MAbs against sites 2B and 3B and one strain was neutralized by all the MAbs in a manner similar to that for the Sabin serotype 3 virus. Partial sequencing of the coding regions confirmed the antigenic changes for all six antigenically distinct strains. By inoculation of these viruses into transgenic mice which express the human poliovirus receptor, one strain was identified as highly neurovirulent, three were identified as intermediate, and three were identified as attenuated. Sera from vaccinated persons efficiently neutralized the mutants. Our data suggest that some double-reactive strains are a potential risk to the unvaccinated community but not to the vaccinated population.
PMCID: PMC85236  PMID: 10405373

Results 1-7 (7)