influenza A virus; harbor seals; H10N7; viruses; Germany; influenza; Phoca vitulina
Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 viruses have devastated the poultry industry in many countries of the eastern hemisphere. Occasionally H5N1 viruses cross the species barrier and infect humans, sometimes with a severe clinical outcome. When this happens, there is a chance of reassortment between H5N1 and human influenza viruses. To assess the potential of H5N1 viruses to reassort with contemporary human influenza viruses (H1N1, H3N2 and pandemic H1N1), we used an in vitro selection method to generate reassortant viruses, that contained the H5 hemagglutinin gene, and that have a replication advantage in vitro. We found that the neuraminidase and matrix gene segments of human influenza viruses were preferentially selected by H5 viruses. However, these H5 reassortant viruses did not show a marked increase in replication in MDCK cells and human bronchial epithelial cells. In ferrets, inoculation with a mixture of H5N1-pandemic H1N1 reassortant viruses resulted in outgrowth of reassortant H5 viruses that had incorporated the neuraminidase and matrix gene segment of pandemic 2009 H1N1. This virus was not transmitted via aerosols or respiratory droplets to naïve recipient ferrets. Altogether, these data emphasize the potential of avian H5N1 viruses to reassort with contemporary human influenza viruses. The neuraminidase and matrix gene segments of human influenza viruses showed the highest genetic compatibility with HPAI H5N1 virus.
influenza B virus; seals; serology; viruses; influenza; Suggested citation for this article: Bodewes R; Morick D; de Mutsert G; Osinga N; Bestebroer T; van der Vliet S; et al. Recurring influenza B virus infections in seals [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Mar [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1903.120965
hepatitis E virus; viruses; ferrets; PCR; pyrosequencing; the Netherlands
We investigated the development of pulmonary lesions in ferrets by means of computed tomography (CT) following infection with the 2009 pandemic A/H1N1 influenza virus and compared the scans with gross pathology, histopathology and immunohistochemistry. Ground-glass opacities observed by CT scanning in all infected lungs corresponded to areas of alveolar oedema at necropsy. These areas were most pronounced on day 3 and gradually decreased from days 4 to 7 post-infection. This pilot study shows that the non-invasive imaging procedure allows quantification and characterization of influenza-induced pulmonary lesions in living animals under biosafety level 3 conditions and can thus be used in pre-clinical pharmaceutical efficacy studies.
To demonstrate that pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus may cause respiratory disease in cats, we intratracheally infected cats. Diffuse alveolar damage developed. Seroconversion of sentinel cats indicated cat-to-cat virus transmission. Unlike in cats infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1), extrarespiratory lesions did not develop in cats infected with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus.
Pandemic (H1N1) 2009; influenza; viruses; cats; pathogenesis; transmission; pathology; dispatch
Flavivirus infections are the most prevalent arthropod-borne infections world wide, often causing severe disease especially among children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. In the absence of effective antiviral treatment, prevention through vaccination would greatly reduce morbidity and mortality associated with flavivirus infections. Despite the success of the empirically developed vaccines against yellow fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and tick-borne encephalitis virus, there is an increasing need for a more rational design and development of safe and effective vaccines. Several bioinformatic tools are available to support such rational vaccine design. In doing so, several parameters have to be taken into account, such as safety for the target population, overall immunogenicity of the candidate vaccine, and efficacy and longevity of the immune responses triggered. Examples of how bio-informatics is applied to assist in the rational design and improvements of vaccines, particularly flavivirus vaccines, are presented and discussed.
We report an outbreak of cowpox virus among monkeys at a sanctuary for exotic animals. Serologic analysis and polymerase chain reaction were performed on blood and swab samples from different rodent species trapped at the sanctuary during the outbreak. Sequence comparison and serologic results showed that brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) transmitted the virus to monkeys.
Poxvirus; zoonosis; nonhuman primates; transmission; rodents; dispatch
Osterhaus and Haagmans discuss a new study in
PLoS Medicine that supports the use of the cynomolgus macaque model to study SARS pathogenesis and to test intervention strategies.
A quantitative method is presented to rank strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) as a platform for pre-pandemic and pandemic influenza vaccines. Analytic hierarchy process (AHP) was applied to achieve pairwise comparisons among SWOT factors in order to prioritize them. Key opinion leaders (KOLs) in the influenza vaccine field were interviewed to collect a unique dataset to evaluate the market potential of this platform.
The purpose of this study, to evaluate commercial potential of the MVA platform for the development of novel generation pandemic influenza vaccines, is accomplished by using a SWOT and AHP combined analytic method. Application of the SWOT–AHP model indicates that its strengths are considered more important by KOLs than its weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Particularly, the inherent immunogenicity capability of MVA without the requirement of an adjuvant is the most important factor to increase commercial attractiveness of this platform. Concerns regarding vector vaccines and anti-vector immunity are considered its most important weakness, which might lower public health value of this platform. Furthermore, evaluation of the results of this study emphasizes equally important role that threats and opportunities of this platform play.
This study further highlights unmet needs in the influenza vaccine market, which could be addressed by the implementation of the MVA platform. Broad use of MVA in clinical trials shows great promise for this vector as vaccine platform for pre-pandemic and pandemic influenza and threats by other respiratory viruses. Moreover, from the results of the clinical trials seem that MVA is particularly attractive for development of vaccines against pathogens for which no, or only insufficiently effective vaccines, are available.
Virus vectored vaccine; Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA); Influenza virus; Pre-pandemic and Pandemic vaccine; Vaccine technology platform; Vaccine production platform
Elephants are classified as critically endangered animals by the International Union for Conservation of Species (IUCN). Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) poses a large threat to breeding programs of captive Asian elephants by causing fatal haemorrhagic disease. EEHV infection is detected by PCR in samples from both clinically ill and asymptomatic elephants with an active infection, whereas latent carriers can be distinguished exclusively via serological assays. To date, identification of latent carriers has been challenging, since there are no serological assays capable of detecting seropositive elephants.
Here we describe a novel ELISA that specifically detects EEHV antibodies circulating in Asian elephant plasma/serum. Approximately 80 % of PCR positive elephants display EEHV-specific antibodies. Monitoring three Asian elephant herds from European zoos revealed that the serostatus of elephants within a herd varied from non-detectable to high titers. The antibody titers showed typical herpes-like rise-and-fall patterns in time which occur in all seropositive animals in the herd more or less simultaneously.
This study shows that the developed ELISA is suitable to detect antibodies specific to EEHV. It allows study of EEHV seroprevalence in Asian elephants. Results confirm that EEHV prevalence among Asian elephants (whether captive-born or wild-caught) is high.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-015-0522-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
EEHV; Asian elephant; Glycoprotein B; ELISA; Seroprevalence
These birds are highly susceptible to strains circulating in Europe and, thus, may serve as surveillance sentinels.
West Nile virus (WNV) outbreaks in North America have been characterized by substantial die-offs of American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). In contrast, a low incidence of bird deaths has been observed during WNV epidemic activity in Europe. To examine the susceptibility of the western European counterpart of American crows, we inoculated carrion crows (Corvus corone) with WNV strains isolated in Greece (Gr-10), Italy (FIN and Ita09), and Hungary (578/10) and with the highly virulent North American genotype strain (NY99). We also inoculated American crows with a selection of these strains to examine the strains’ virulence in a highly susceptible bird species. Infection with all strains, except WNV FIN, resulted in high rates of death and high-level viremia in both bird species and virus dissemination to several organs. These results suggest that carrion crows are highly susceptible to WNV and may potentially be useful as part of dead bird surveillance for early warning of WNV activity in Europe.
West Nile virus; WNV; carrion crow; Europe; corvid; susceptibility; virulence; viruses; experimental infection; surveillance; sentinel; Corvus corone
vaccine; avian influenza; MVA; clinical trial; antibodies; zoonoses; viruses
Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) and Streptococcus pneumoniae are important causative agents of respiratory tract infections. Both pathogens are associated with seasonal disease outbreaks in the pediatric population, and can often be detected simultaneously in infants hospitalized with bronchiolitis or pneumonia. It has been described that respiratory virus infections may predispose for bacterial superinfections, resulting in severe disease. However, studies on the influence of bacterial colonization of the upper respiratory tract on the pathogenesis of subsequent respiratory virus infections are scarce. Here, we have investigated whether pneumococcal colonization enhances subsequent HRSV infection. We used a newly generated recombinant subgroup B HRSV strain that expresses enhanced green fluorescent protein and pneumococcal isolates obtained from healthy children in disease-relevant in vitro and in vivo model systems. Three pneumococcal strains specifically enhanced in vitro HRSV infection of primary well-differentiated normal human bronchial epithelial cells grown at air-liquid interface, whereas two other strains did not. Since previous studies reported that bacterial neuraminidase enhanced HRSV infection in vitro, we measured pneumococcal neuraminidase activity in these cultures but found no correlation with the observed infection enhancement in our model. Subsequently, a selection of pneumococcal strains was used to induce nasal colonization of cotton rats, the best available small animal model for HRSV. Intranasal HRSV infection three days later resulted in strain-specific enhancement of HRSV replication in vivo. One S. pneumoniae strain enhanced HRSV both in vitro and in vivo, and was also associated with enhanced syncytium formation in vivo. However, neither pneumococci nor HRSV were found to spread from the upper to the lower respiratory tract, and neither pathogen was transmitted to naive cage mates by direct contact. These results demonstrate that pneumococcal colonization can enhance subsequent HRSV infection, and provide tools for additional mechanistic and intervention studies.
Systems biology has proven to be a powerful tool to identify reliable predictors of treatment response in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In the present study, we studied patients with chronic HCV infection who responded to interferon (IFN)-based therapy, as evidenced by an absence of HCV RNA at the end of treatment, and focused on two issues that have not received much attention. First, we evaluated whether specific genes or gene expression patterns in blood were able to distinguish responder patients with a viral relapse from responder patients who remained virus negative after cessation of treatment. We found that patients with chronic HCV infection who were sustained responders and relapsers after IFN-based therapy showed comparable baseline clinical parameters and immune compositions in blood. However, at baseline, the gene expression profiles of a set of 18 genes predicted treatment outcome with an accuracy of 94%. Second, we examined whether patients with successful therapy-induced clearance of HCV still exhibited gene expression patterns characteristic of HCV or whether normalization of their transcriptome was observed. We observed that the relatively high expression levels of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) in patients with chronic HCV infection prior to therapy were reduced after successful IFN-based antiviral therapy (at 24 weeks of follow-up). These ISGs included the CXCL10, OAS1, IFI6, DDX60, TRIM5, and STAT1 genes. In addition, 1,428 differentially expressed non-ISGs were identified in paired pre- and posttreatment samples from sustained responders, which included genes involved in transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) signaling, apoptosis, autophagy, and nucleic acid and protein metabolism. Interestingly, 1,424 genes with altered expression levels in responder patients after viral eradication were identified, in comparison to normal expression levels in healthy individuals. Additionally, aberrant expression levels of a subset of these genes, including the interleukin-32 (IL-32), IL-16, CCND3, and RASSF1 genes, were also observed at baseline. Our findings indicate that successful antiviral therapy for patients with chronic HCV infection does not lead to normalization of their blood transcriptional signature. The altered transcriptional activity may reflect HCV-induced liver damage in previously infected individuals.
IMPORTANCE Tools to predict the efficacy of antiviral therapy for patients with HCV infection are important to select the optimal therapeutic strategy. Using a systems biology approach, we identify a set of 18 genes expressed in blood that predicts the recurrence of HCV RNA after cessation of therapy consisting of peginterferon and ribavirin. This set of genes may be applicable as a useful biomarker in clinical decision-making, since the number of genes included in the predictor is small and the correct prediction rate is high (94%). In addition, we observed that the blood transcriptional profile in patients with chronic HCV infection who were successfully treated is not normalized to the status observed in healthy individuals. Even 6 months after therapy-induced elimination of HCV RNA, gene expression profiles in blood are still altered in these patients with chronic HCV infection, strongly suggesting long-term modulation of immune parameters in previously infected patients.
Data on long-term circulation of pathogens in wildlife populations are seldom collected, and hence understanding of spatial–temporal variation in prevalence and genotypes is limited. Here, we analysed a long-term surveillance series on influenza A virus (IAV) in mallards collected at an important migratory stopover site from 2002 to 2010, and characterized seasonal dynamics in virus prevalence and subtype diversity. Prevalence dynamics were influenced by year, but retained a common pattern for all years whereby prevalence was low in spring and summer, but increased in early autumn with a first peak in August, and a second more pronounced peak during October–November. A total of 74 haemagglutinin (HA)/neuraminidase (NA) combinations were isolated, including all NA and most HA (H1–H12) subtypes. The most common subtype combinations were H4N6, H1N1, H2N3, H5N2, H6N2 and H11N9, and showed a clear linkage between specific HA and NA subtypes. Furthermore, there was a temporal structuring of subtypes within seasons based on HA phylogenetic relatedness. Dissimilar HA subtypes tended to have different temporal occurrence within seasons, where the subtypes that dominated in early autumn were rare in late autumn, and vice versa. This suggests that build-up of herd immunity affected IAV dynamics in this system.
influenza A virus; mallards; prevalence; diversity; disease dynamics; host–pathogen interactions
Recently, A/H5N1 influenza viruses were shown to acquire airborne transmissibility between ferrets upon targeted mutagenesis and virus passage. The critical genetic changes in airborne A/Indonesia/5/05 were not yet identified. Here, five substitutions proved to be sufficient to determine this airborne transmission phenotype. Substitutions in PB1 and PB2 collectively caused enhanced transcription and virus replication. One substitution increased HA thermostability and lowered the pH of membrane fusion. Two substitutions independently changed HA binding preference from α2,3 linked to α2,6 linked sialic acid receptors. The loss of a glycosylation site in HA enhanced overall binding to receptors. The acquired substitutions emerged early during ferret passage as minor variants and became dominant rapidly. Identification of substitutions that are essential for airborne transmission of avian influenza viruses between ferrets and their associated phenotypes advances our fundamental understanding of virus transmission and will increase the value of future surveillance programs and public health risk assessments.
A novel coronavirus (CoV) that causes a severe lower respiratory tract infection in humans, emerged in the Middle East region in 2012. This virus, named Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV, is phylogenetically related to bat CoVs, but other animal species like dromedary camels may potentially act as intermediate hosts by spreading the virus to humans. Although human to human transmission has been demonstrated, analysis of human MERS clusters indicated that chains of transmission were not self-sustaining, especially when infection control was implemented. Thus, timely identification of new MERS cases followed by their quarantine, combined with measures to limit spread of the virus from the (intermediate) host to humans, may be crucial in controlling the outbreak of this emerging CoV.
Efficient detection of human respiratory viral pathogens is crucial in the management of patients with acute respiratory tract infection. Sequence-independent amplification of nucleic acids combined with next-generation sequencing technology and bioinformatics analyses is a promising strategy for identifying pathogens in clinical and public health settings. It allows the characterization of hundreds of different known pathogens simultaneously and of novel pathogens that elude conventional testing. However, major hurdles for its routine use exist, including cost, turnaround time, and especially sensitivity of the assay, as the detection limit is dependent on viral load, host genetic material, and sequencing depth. To obtain insights into these aspects, we analyzed nasopharyngeal aspirates from a cohort of 81 Thai children with respiratory disease for the presence of respiratory viruses using a sequence-independent next-generation sequencing approach and routinely used diagnostic real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (real-time RT-PCR) assays. With respect to the detection of rhinovirus and human metapneumovirus, the next-generation sequencing approach was at least as sensitive as diagnostic real-time RT-PCR in this small cohort, whereas for bocavirus and enterovirus, next-generation sequencing was less sensitive than real-time RT-PCR. The advantage of the sequencing approach over real-time RT-PCR was the immediate availability of virus-typing information. Considering the development of platforms capable of generating more output data at declining costs, next-generation sequencing remains of interest for future virus diagnosis in clinical and public health settings and certainly as an additional tool when screening results from real-time RT-PCR are negative.
Puumala virus (PUUV) infection causes over 5000 cases of hemorrhagic fever in Europe annually and can influence the hemostatic balance extensively. Infection might lead to hemorrhage, while a recent study showed an increased risk of myocardial infarction during or shortly after PUUV infection. The mechanism by which this hantavirus influences the coagulation system remains unknown. Therefore we aimed to elucidate mechanisms explaining alterations seen in primary and secondary hemostasis during PUUV infection. By using low passage PUUV isolates to infect primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) we were able to show alterations in the regulation of primary- and secondary hemostasis and in the release of fibrinolysis regulators. Our main finding was an activation of secondary hemostasis due to increased tissue factor (TF) expression leading to increased thrombin generation in a functional assay. Furthermore, we showed that during infection platelets adhered to HUVEC and subsequently specifically to PUUV virus particles. Infection of HUVEC with PUUV did not result in increased von Willebrand factor while they produced more plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) compared to controls. The PAI-1 produced in this model formed complexes with vitronectin. This is the first report that reveals a potential mechanism behind the pro-coagulant changes in PUUV patients, which could be the result of increased thrombin generation due to an increased TF expression on endothelial cells during infection. Furthermore, we provide insight into the contribution of endothelial cell responses regarding hemostasis in PUUV pathogenesis.
hantavirus; hemostasis; platelets; endothelial cells; thrombin generation; hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome; HFRS
Dengue virus (DENV) infection causes viral haemorrhagic fever that is characterized by extensive activation of the immune system. The aim of this study is to investigate the kinetics of the transcriptome signature changes during the course of disease and the association of genes in these signatures with clinical parameters.
Sequential whole blood samples from DENV infected patients in Jakarta were profiled using affymetrix microarrays, which were analysed using principal component analysis, limma, gene set analysis, and weighted gene co-expression network analysis. We show that time since onset of disease, but not diagnosis, has a large impact on the blood transcriptome of patients with non-severe dengue. Clinical diagnosis (according to the WHO classification) does not associate with differential gene expression. Network analysis however, indicated that the clinical markers platelet count, fibrinogen, albumin, IV fluid distributed per day and liver enzymes SGOT and SGPT strongly correlate with gene modules that are enriched for genes involved in the immune response. Overall, we see a shift in the transcriptome from immunity and inflammation to repair and recovery during the course of a DENV infection.
Time since onset of disease associates with the shift in transcriptome signatures from immunity and inflammation to cell cycle and repair mechanisms in patients with non-severe dengue. The strong association of time with blood transcriptome changes hampers both the discovery as well as the potential application of biomarkers in dengue. However, we identified gene expression modules that associate with key clinical parameters of dengue that reflect the systemic activity of disease during the course of infection. The expression level of these gene modules may support earlier detection of disease progression as well as clinical management of dengue.
An acute dengue virus infection usually starts with a febrile disease phase that can progress to severe disease around the time fever abates (defervescence). Here we study dengue patients that were included very early after the onset of disease and carefully monitored in a longitudinal cohort study. Our results show that time after the onset of disease has a major impact on the transcriptome profile of patients with dengue, which is confirmed by comparing our results with three other dengue studies that included patients at different disease stages. There is a gradual shift in transcriptome profile from an ‘immunity & inflammation’- to a ‘repair & recovery’ phenotype. Furthermore, the expression of gene network modules could be linked to specific clinical parameters of dengue virus infection. Platelet counts and the levels of fibrinogen and albumin are shown to be good markers for the activity and timing of the disease, reflecting relevant biological processes in the patient. In contrast, conventional WHO classification systems did not show any association with any of the 25 gene modules identified and only yielded a few differentially expressed genes. The expression level of gene modules specific for certain biological processes in dengue support earlier detection of progression to severe disease and may improve clinical management.
Viral infections remain a serious global health issue. Metagenomic approaches are increasingly used in the detection of novel viral pathogens but also to generate complete genomes of uncultivated viruses. In silico identification of complete viral genomes from sequence data would allow rapid phylogenetic characterization of these new viruses. Often, however, complete viral genomes are not recovered, but rather several distinct contigs derived from a single entity are, some of which have no sequence homology to any known proteins. De novo assembly of single viruses from a metagenome is challenging, not only because of the lack of a reference genome, but also because of intrapopulation variation and uneven or insufficient coverage. Here we explored different assembly algorithms, remote homology searches, genome-specific sequence motifs, k-mer frequency ranking, and coverage profile binning to detect and obtain viral target genomes from metagenomes. All methods were tested on 454-generated sequencing datasets containing three recently described RNA viruses with a relatively large genome which were divergent to previously known viruses from the viral families Rhabdoviridae and Coronaviridae. Depending on specific characteristics of the target virus and the metagenomic community, different assembly and in silico gap closure strategies were successful in obtaining near complete viral genomes.
virus; pathogen; metagenome; virome; virus discovery; assembly; viral metagenomics
rhabdovirus; viral metagenomics; wildlife; red fox; fox; viruses; Spain