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1.  Reassortant Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Viruses with H9N2-PB1 Gene in Poultry, Bangladesh 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(10):1630-1634.
Bangladesh has reported a high number of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) (H5N1) in poultry. We identified a natural reassortant HPAI (H5N1) virus containing a H9N2-PB1 gene in poultry in Bangladesh. Our findings highlight the risks for prolonged co-circulation of avian influenza viruses and the need to monitor their evolution.
PMCID: PMC3811991  PMID: 24047513
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1; Bangladesh; phylogenetic analysis; reassortment; viruses; influenza; influenza (H5N1); avian influenza; HPAI; H9N2-PB1; H9N2; reassortant; avian influenza A(H5N1); genes; zoonoses
2.  Occurrence and identification of risk areas of Ixodes ricinus-borne pathogens: a cost-effectiveness analysis in north-eastern Italy 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:61.
Ixodes ricinus, a competent vector of several pathogens, is the tick species most frequently reported to bite humans in Europe. The majority of human cases of Lyme borreliosis (LB) and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) occur in the north-eastern region of Italy. The aims of this study were to detect the occurrence of endemic and emergent pathogens in north-eastern Italy using adult tick screening, and to identify areas at risk of pathogen transmission. Based on our results, different strategies for tick collection and pathogen screening and their relative costs were evaluated and discussed.
From 2006 to 2008 adult ticks were collected in 31 sites and molecularly screened for the detection of pathogens previously reported in the same area (i.e., LB agents, TBE virus, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp., Babesia spp., "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis"). Based on the results of this survey, three sampling strategies were evaluated a-posteriori, and the impact of each strategy on the final results and the overall cost reductions were analyzed. The strategies were as follows: tick collection throughout the year and testing of female ticks only (strategy A); collection from April to June and testing of all adult ticks (strategy B); collection from April to June and testing of female ticks only (strategy C).
Eleven pathogens were detected in 77 out of 193 ticks collected in 14 sites. The most common microorganisms detected were Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (17.6%), Rickettsia helvetica (13.1%), and "Ca. N. mikurensis" (10.5%). Within the B. burgdorferi complex, four genotypes (i.e., B. valaisiana, B. garinii, B. afzelii, and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto) were found. Less prevalent pathogens included R. monacensis (3.7%), TBE virus (2.1%), A. phagocytophilum (1.5%), Bartonella spp. (1%), and Babesia EU1 (0.5%). Co-infections by more than one pathogen were diagnosed in 22% of infected ticks. The prevalences of infection assessed using the three alternative strategies were in accordance with the initial results, with 13, 11, and 10 out of 14 sites showing occurrence of at least one pathogen, respectively. The strategies A, B, and C proposed herein would allow to reduce the original costs of sampling and laboratory analyses by one third, half, and two thirds, respectively. Strategy B was demonstrated to represent the most cost-effective choice, offering a substantial reduction of costs, as well as reliable results.
Monitoring of tick-borne diseases is expensive, particularly in areas where several zoonotic pathogens co-occur. Cost-effectiveness studies can support the choice of the best monitoring strategy, which should take into account the ecology of the area under investigation, as well as the available budget.
PMCID: PMC3337281  PMID: 22452970
Ixodes ricinus; tick-borne diseases; surveillance; economic evaluation; Italy.
3.  Phylogeography and Evolutionary History of Reassortant H9N2 Viruses with Potential Human Health Implications ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(16):8413-8421.
Avian influenza viruses of the H9N2 subtype have seriously affected the poultry industry of the Far and Middle East since the mid-1990s and are considered one of the most likely candidates to cause a new influenza pandemic in humans. To understand the genesis and epidemiology of these viruses, we investigated the spatial and evolutionary dynamics of complete genome sequences of H9N2 viruses circulating in nine Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries from 1998 to 2010. We identified four distinct and cocirculating groups (A, B, C, and D), each of which has undergone widespread inter- and intrasubtype reassortments, leading to the generation of viruses with unknown biological properties. Our analysis also suggested that eastern Asia served as the major source for H9N2 gene segments in the Middle East and Central Asia and that in this geographic region within-country evolution played a more important role in shaping viral genetic diversity than migration between countries. The genetic variability identified among the H9N2 viruses was associated with specific amino acid substitutions that are believed to result in increased transmissibility in mammals, as well as resistance to antiviral drugs. Our study highlights the need to constantly monitor the evolution of H9N2 viruses in poultry to better understand the potential risk to human health posed by these viruses.
PMCID: PMC3147996  PMID: 21680519
4.  Evolutionary Dynamics of Multiple Sublineages of H5N1 Influenza Viruses in Nigeria from 2006 to 2008 ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(7):3239-3247.
Highly pathogenic A/H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) viruses have seriously affected the Nigerian poultry industry since early 2006. Previous studies have identified multiple introductions of the virus into Nigeria and several reassortment events between cocirculating lineages. To determine the spatial, evolutionary, and population dynamics of the multiple H5N1 lineages cocirculating in Nigeria, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis of whole-genome sequences from 106 HPAI H5N1 viruses isolated between 2006 and 2008 and representing all 25 Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) reporting outbreaks. We identified a major new subclade in Nigeria that is phylogenetically distinguishable from all previously identified sublineages, as well as two novel reassortment events. A detailed analysis of viral phylogeography identified two major source populations for the HPAI H5N1 virus in Nigeria, one in a major commercial poultry area (southwest region) and one in northern Nigeria, where contact between wild birds and backyard poultry is frequent. These findings suggested that migratory birds from Eastern Europe or Russia may serve an important role in the introduction of HPAI H5N1 viruses into Nigeria, although virus spread through the movement of poultry and poultry products cannot be excluded. Our study provides new insight into the genesis and evolution of H5N1 influenza viruses in Nigeria and has important implications for targeting surveillance efforts to rapidly identify the spread of the virus into and within Nigeria.
PMCID: PMC2838112  PMID: 20071565
5.  Introduction into Nigeria of a Distinct Genotype of Avian Influenza Virus (H5N1) 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(3):445-447.
Genetic characterization of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (H5N1) isolated in July 2008 in Nigeria indicates that a distinct genotype, never before detected in Africa, reached the continent. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the viruses are genetically closely related to European and Middle Eastern influenza A (H5N1) isolates detected in 2007.
PMCID: PMC2681125  PMID: 19239760
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus; H5N1; Nigeria; phylogenetic analysis; dispatch
6.  Co-circulation of two sublineages of HPAI H5N1 virus in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with unique molecular signatures suggesting separate introductions into the commercial poultry and falconry sectors 
The Journal of General Virology  2008;89(Pt 11):2691-2697.
Since early 2007, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has experienced several highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreaks in the falconry and poultry sectors. The public health threat associated with peculiar husbandry systems, requiring close contact between humans and birds of prey, highlights the need of an improved understanding of the epidemiology and of the viral characteristics of H5N1 viruses circulating in the region. Here we report molecular and phylogenetic analyses of H5N1 viruses isolated in the KSA in 2007 in distinct compartments of avian husbandry. From the results of our investigation it appears that two separate introductions into the different sectors occurred. The identification of specific amino acid mutations, which are described as genetic signatures of human influenza A viruses or known to confer resistance to antiviral drugs, raises concerns for the possible human health implications of the KSA H5N1 viruses.
PMCID: PMC2886959  PMID: 18931064
7.  Development and Validation of a One-Step Real-Time PCR Assay for Simultaneous Detection of Subtype H5, H7, and H9 Avian Influenza Viruses▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(5):1769-1773.
Among the different hemagglutinin (HA) subtypes of avian influenza (AI) viruses, H5, H7, and H9 are of major interest because of the serious consequences for the poultry industry and the increasing frequency of direct transmission of these viruses to humans. The availability of new tools to rapidly detect and subtype the influenza viruses can enable the immediate application of measures to prevent the widespread transmission of the infection. In this study, a novel one-step real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RRT-PCR) was developed to detect simultaneously the H5, H7, and H9 subtypes of AI viruses from clinical samples of avian origin. The sensitivity of the RRT-PCR assay was determined by using in vitro-transcribed RNA and 10-fold serial dilutions of titrated AI viruses. High sensitivity levels were obtained, with limits of detection ranging from 101 to 103 RNA copies and from 101 50% egg infectious dose (EID50)/100 μl to 102.74 EID50/100 μl with titrated viruses. Excellent results were achieved in the intra- and interassay variability tests. The comparison of the results with those obtained from the analysis of 725 avian samples by means of the reference method (virus isolation [VI]) showed a high level of agreement. To date, this is the first real-time PCR protocol available for the simultaneous detection of AI viruses belonging to subtypes H5, H7, and H9, and the results obtained indicate that this method is suitable as a routine laboratory test for the rapid detection and differentiation of the three most-important AI virus subtypes in samples of avian origin.
PMCID: PMC2395090  PMID: 18367569
8.  Conventional inactivated bivalent H5/H7 vaccine prevents viral localization in muscles of turkeys infected experimentally with low pathogenic avian influenza and highly pathogenic avian influenza H7N1 isolates 
Avian Pathology   2008;37(4):407-412.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses cause viraemia and systemic infections with virus replication in internal organs and muscles; in contrast, low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) viruses produce mild infections with low mortality rates and local virus replication. There is little available information on the ability of LPAI viruses to cause viraemia or on the presence of avian influenza viruses in general in the muscles of infected turkeys. The aim of the present study was to determine the ability of LPAI and HPAI H7N1 viruses to reach muscle tissues following experimental infection and to determine the efficacy of vaccination in preventing viraemia and meat localization. The potential of infective muscle tissue to act as a source of infection for susceptible turkeys by mimicking the practice of swill-feeding was also investigated. The HPAI virus was isolated from blood and muscle tissues of all unvaccinated turkeys; LPAI could be isolated only from blood of one bird and could be detected only by reverse transcriptasepolymerase chain reaction in muscles. In contrast, no viable virus or viral RNA could be detected in muscles of vaccinated/challenged turkeys, indicating that viral localization in muscle tissue is prevented in vaccinated birds.
PMCID: PMC2562020  PMID: 18622857

Results 1-8 (8)