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
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
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.
rhabdovirus; viral metagenomics; wildlife; red fox; fox; viruses; Spain
A novel parvovirus was discovered recently in the brain of a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) with chronic meningo-encephalitis. Phylogenetic analysis of this virus indicated that it belongs to the genus Erythroparvovirus, to which also human parvovirus B19 belongs. In the present study, the prevalence, genetic diversity and clinical relevance of seal parvovirus (SePV) infections was evaluated in both harbor and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) that lived in Northwestern European coastal waters from 1988 to 2014. To this end, serum and tissue samples collected from seals were tested for the presence of seal parvovirus DNA by real-time PCR and the sequences of the partial NS gene and the complete VP2 gene of positive samples were determined. Seal parvovirus DNA was detected in nine (8%) of the spleen tissues tested and in one (0.5%) of the serum samples tested, including samples collected from seals that died in 1988. Sequence analysis of the partial NS and complete VP2 genes of nine SePV revealed multiple sites with nucleotide substitutions but only one amino acid change in the VP2 gene. Estimated nucleotide substitution rates per year were 2.00×10−4 for the partial NS gene and 1.15×10−4 for the complete VP2 gene. Most samples containing SePV DNA were co-infected with phocine herpesvirus 1 or PDV, so no conclusions could be drawn about the clinical impact of SePV infection alone. The present study is one of the few in which the mutation rates of parvoviruses were evaluated over a period of more than 20 years, especially in a wildlife population, providing additional insights into the genetic diversity of parvoviruses.
During a dengue outbreak on the Caribbean island Aruba, highly elevated levels of ferritin were detected in dengue virus infected patients. Ferritin is an acute-phase reactant and hyperferritinaemia is a hallmark of diseases caused by extensive immune activation, such as haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether hyperferritinaemia in dengue patients was associated with clinical markers of extensive immune activation and coagulation disturbances.
Levels of ferritin, standard laboratory markers, sIL-2R, IL-18 and coagulation and fibrinolytic markers were determined in samples from patients with uncomplicated dengue in Aruba. Levels of ferritin were significantly increased in dengue patients compared to patients with other febrile illnesses. Moreover, levels of ferritin associated significantly with the occurrence of viraemia. Hyperferritinaemia was also significantly associated with thrombocytopenia, elevated liver enzymes and coagulation disturbances. The results were validated in a cohort of dengue virus infected patients in Brazil. In this cohort levels of ferritin and cytokine profiles were determined. Increased levels of ferritin in dengue virus infected patients in Brazil were associated with disease severity and a pro-inflammatory cytokine profile.
Altogether, we provide evidence that ferritin can be used as a clinical marker to discriminate between dengue and other febrile illnesses. The occurrence of hyperferritinaemia in dengue virus infected patients is indicative for highly active disease resulting in immune activation and coagulation disturbances. Therefore, we recommend that patients with hyperferritinaemia are monitored carefully.
Ferritin is an acute-phase reactant and produced by reticulo-endothelial cells in response to inflammation and infection. In general, ferritin levels are increased in inflammatory conditions, but in this study we found that ferritin levels were much higher in dengue virus infected patients than in patients with other febrile illnesses. This indicates that ferritin could be used as a marker to discriminate between dengue and other febrile diseases. Moreover, the presence of hyperferritinaemia (ferritin levels≥500 µg/L) was associated with markers of immune activation and coagulation disturbances and clinical disease severity, suggesting that it could serve as a marker of activity of disease. Clinical markers to determine the presence and severity of dengue virus infection are important for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Our results indicate that increased ferritin levels could be used to increase the likelihood on a positive dengue diagnosis. Moreover, patients with hyperferritinaemia should be monitored carefully, because they are at risk to develop severe disease due to extensive immune activation.
Measles virus (MV) is being considered for global eradication, which would likely reduce compliance with MV vaccination. As a result, children will grow up without MV-specific immunity, creating a potential niche for closely related animal morbilliviruses such as canine distemper virus (CDV). Natural CDV infection causing clinical signs has never been reported in humans, but recent outbreaks in captive macaques have shown that CDV can cause disease in primates. We studied the virulence and tropism of recombinant CDV expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein in naive and measles-vaccinated cynomolgus macaques. In naive animals CDV caused viremia and fever and predominantly infected CD150+ lymphocytes and dendritic cells. Virus was reisolated from the upper and lower respiratory tracts, but infection of epithelial or neuronal cells was not detectable at the time points examined, and the infections were self-limiting. This demonstrates that CDV readily infects nonhuman primates but suggests that additional mutations are necessary to achieve full virulence in nonnatural hosts. Partial protection against CDV was observed in measles-vaccinated macaques, as demonstrated by accelerated control of virus replication and limited shedding from the upper respiratory tract. While neither CDV infection nor MV vaccination induced detectable cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies, MV-specific neutralizing antibody levels of MV-vaccinated macaques were boosted by CDV challenge infection, suggesting that cross-reactive VN epitopes exist. Rapid increases in white blood cell counts in MV-vaccinated macaques following CDV challenge suggested that cross-reactive cellular immune responses were also present. This study demonstrates that zoonotic morbillivirus infections can be controlled by measles vaccination.
IMPORTANCE Throughout history viral zoonoses have had a substantial impact on human health. Given the drive toward global eradication of measles, it is essential to understand the zoonotic potential of animal morbilliviruses. Morbilliviruses are thought to have evolved from a common ancestral virus that jumped species and adapted to new hosts. Recently, canine distemper virus (CDV), a morbillivirus normally restricted to carnivores, caused disease outbreaks in nonhuman primates. Here, we report that experimental CDV infection of monkeys resulted in fever and leukopenia. The virus replicated to high levels in lymphocytes but did not spread to epithelial cells or the central nervous system. Importantly, like measles virus in macaques, the infections were self-limiting. In measles-vaccinated macaques CDV was cleared more rapidly, resulting in limited virus shedding from the upper respiratory tract. These studies demonstrate that although CDV can readily infect primates, measles immunity is protective, and CDV infection is self-limiting.
We determined the pattern of attachment of the avian-origin H7N9 influenza viruses A/Anhui/1/2013 and A/Shanghai/1/2013 to the respiratory tract in ferrets, macaques, mice, pigs, and guinea pigs and compared it to that in humans. The H7N9 attachment pattern in macaques, mice, and to a lesser extent pigs and guinea pigs resembled that in humans more closely than the attachment pattern in ferrets. This information contributes to our knowledge of the different animal models for influenza.
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.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection is characterized by rash, acute high fever, chills, headache, nausea, photophobia, vomiting, and severe polyarthralgia. There is evidence that arthralgia can persist for years and result in long-term discomfort. Neurologic disease with fatal outcome has been documented, although at low incidences. The CHIKV RNA genome encodes five structural proteins (C, E1, E2, E3 and 6K). The E1 spike protein drives the fusion process within the cytoplasm, while the E2 protein is believed to interact with cellular receptors and therefore most probably constitutes the target of neutralizing antibodies. We have constructed recombinant Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) expressing E3E2, 6KE1, or the entire CHIKV envelope polyprotein cassette E3E26KE1. MVA is an appropriate platform because of its demonstrated clinical safety and its suitability for expression of various heterologous proteins. After completing the immunization scheme, animals were challenged with CHIV-S27. Immunization of AG129 mice with MVAs expressing E2 or E3E26KE1 elicited neutralizing antibodies in all animals and provided 100% protection against lethal disease. In contrast, 75% of the animals immunized with 6KE1 were protected against lethal infection. In conclusion, MVA expressing the glycoprotein E2 of CHIKV represents as an immunogenic and effective candidate vaccine against CHIKV infections.
The Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) represents a threat to Europe. This is supported by its recent introduction and autochthonous transmission in Italy and France in 2007 and 2010 respectively. CHIKV causes an acute febrile illness and severe joint pains that may last for several months in some patients. In absence of a proven effective treatment, safe and effective vaccines represent the best way to control outbreaks of CHIKV. This study describes the development of a vaccine candidate based on the Modified Vaccinia Ankara virus (MVA). MVA has been used to develop vaccines against several viruses and based on the safety and efficacy records of MVA vaccines, various candidate vaccines are currently in clinical trials. MVA expressing structural proteins of CHIKV were constructed and tested in AG129 mice for immunogenicity and protective ability. All animals that received MVA expressing E2 developed neutralizing antibodies and were protected against lethal challenge. Our study shows that recombinant MVA expressing the E2 protein of CHIKV represents a potential candidate vaccine for prevention of CHIKV infections in travellers or endemic areas.
Primary herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection leads to a life-long latent infection of ganglia innervating the oral mucosa. HSV-1 and VZV reactivation is more common in immunocompromised individuals and may result in viral shedding in saliva. We determined the kinetics and quantity of oral HSV-1 and VZV shedding in HSV-1 and VZV seropositive individuals infected with HIV and to assess whether HSV-1 shedding involves reactivation of the same strain intra-individually. HSV-1 and VZV shedding was determined by real-time PCR of sequential daily oral swabs (n=715) collected for a median period of 31 days from 22 individuals infected with HIV. HSV-1 was genotyped by sequencing the viral thymidine kinase gene. Herpesvirus shedding was detected in 18 of 22 participants. Shedding of HSV-1 occurred frequently, on 14.3% of days, whereas solely VZV shedding was very rare. Two participants shed VZV. The median HSV-1 load was higher compared to VZV. HSV-1 DNA positive swabs clustered into 34 shedding episodes with a median duration of 2 days. The prevalence, duration and viral load of herpesvirus shedding did not correlate with CD4 counts and HIV load. The genotypes of the HSV-1 viruses shed were identical between and within shedding episodes of the same person, but were different between individuals. One-third of the individuals shed an HSV-1 strain potentially refractory to acyclovir therapy. Compared to HSV-1, oral VZV shedding is rare in individuals infected with HIV. Recurrent oral HSV-1 shedding is likely due to reactivation of the same latent HSV-1 strain.
human herpesvirus-1; human herpesvirus-3; reactivation; saliva; immunocompromised; genotyping
Influenza A(H3N2) viruses became widespread in humans during the 1968 H3N2 virus pandemic and have been a major cause of influenza epidemics ever since. These viruses evolve continuously by reassortment and genomic evolution. Antigenic drift is the cause for the need to update influenza vaccines frequently. Using two data sets that span the entire period of circulation of human influenza A(H3N2) viruses, it was shown that influenza A(H3N2) virus evolution can be mapped to 13 antigenic clusters. Here we analyzed the full genomes of 286 influenza A(H3N2) viruses from these two data sets to investigate the genomic evolution and reassortment patterns. Numerous reassortment events were found, scattered over the entire period of virus circulation, but most prominently in viruses circulating between 1991 and 1998. Some of these reassortment events persisted over time, and one of these coincided with an antigenic cluster transition. Furthermore, selection pressures and nucleotide and amino acid substitution rates of all proteins were studied, including those of the recently discovered PB1-N40, PA-X, PA-N155, and PA-N182 proteins. Rates of nucleotide and amino acid substitutions were most pronounced for the hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, and PB1-F2 proteins. Selection pressures were highest in hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, matrix 1, and nonstructural protein 1. This study of genotype in relation to antigenic phenotype throughout the period of circulation of human influenza A(H3N2) viruses leads to a better understanding of the evolution of these viruses.
IMPORTANCE Each winter, influenza virus infects approximately 5 to 15% of the world's population, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Influenza A(H3N2) viruses evolve continuously by reassortment and genomic evolution. This leads to changes in antigenic recognition (antigenic drift) which make it necessary to update vaccines against influenza A(H3N2) viruses frequently. In this study, the relationship of genetic evolution to antigenic change spanning the entire period of A(H3N2) virus circulation was studied for the first time. The results presented in this study contribute to a better understanding of genetic evolution in correlation with antigenic evolution of influenza A(H3N2) viruses.
Pathogen surveillance in animals does not provide a sufficient level of vigilance because it is generally confined to surveillance of pathogens with known economic impact in domestic animals and practically nonexistent in wildlife species. As most (re-)emerging viral infections originate from animal sources, it is important to obtain insight into viral pathogens present in the wildlife reservoir from a public health perspective. When monitoring living, free-ranging wildlife for viruses, sample collection can be challenging and availability of nucleic acids isolated from samples is often limited. The development of viral metagenomics platforms allows a more comprehensive inventory of viruses present in wildlife. We report a metagenomic viral survey of the Western Arctic herd of barren ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) in Alaska, USA. The presence of mammalian viruses in eye and nose swabs of 39 free-ranging caribou was investigated by random amplification combined with a metagenomic analysis approach that applied exhaustive iterative assembly of sequencing results to define taxonomic units of each metagenome. Through homology search methods we identified the presence of several mammalian viruses, including different papillomaviruses, a novel parvovirus, polyomavirus, and a virus that potentially represents a member of a novel genus in the family Coronaviridae.
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) replicates in cells of different species using dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) as a functional receptor. Here we show the resistance of ferrets to MERS-CoV infection and inability of ferret DDP4 to bind MERS-CoV. Site-directed mutagenesis of amino acids variable in ferret DPP4 thus revealed the functional human DPP4 virus binding site. Adenosine deaminase (ADA), a DPP4 binding protein, competed for virus binding, acting as a natural antagonist for MERS-CoV infection.
In February 2013, zoonotic transmission of a novel influenza A virus of the H7N9 subtype was reported in China. Although at present no sustained human-to-human transmission has been reported, a pandemic outbreak of this H7N9 virus is feared. Since neutralizing antibodies to the hemagglutinin (HA) globular head domain of the virus are virtually absent in the human population, there is interest in identifying other correlates of protection, such as cross-reactive CD8+ T cells (cytotoxic T lymphocytes [CTLs]) elicited during seasonal influenza A virus infections. These virus-specific CD8+ T cells are known to recognize conserved internal proteins of influenza A viruses predominantly, but it is unknown to what extent they cross-react with the newly emerging H7N9 virus. Here, we assessed the cross-reactivity of seasonal H3N2 and H1N1 and pandemic H1N1 influenza A virus-specific polyclonal CD8+ T cells, obtained from HLA-typed study subjects, with the novel H7N9 virus. The cross-reactivity of CD8+ T cells to H7N9 variants of known influenza A virus epitopes and H7N9 virus-infected cells was determined by their gamma interferon (IFN-γ) response and lytic activity. It was concluded that, apart from recognition of individual H7N9 variant epitopes, CD8+ T cells to seasonal influenza viruses display considerable cross-reactivity with the novel H7N9 virus. The presence of these cross-reactive CD8+ T cells may afford some protection against infection with the new virus.
We obtained the full genome of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) from a camel in Qatar. This virus is highly similar to the human England/Qatar 1 virus isolated in 2012. The MERS-CoV from the camel efficiently replicated in human cells, providing further evidence for the zoonotic potential of MERS-CoV from camels.
coronavirus; MERS; camel; viruses; Qatar
Type I IFN production is one of the hallmarks of host innate immune responses upon virus infection. Whilst most respiratory viruses carry IFN antagonists, reports on human metapneumovirus (HMPV) have been conflicting. Using deep sequencing, we have demonstrated that HMPV particles accumulate excessive amounts of defective interfering RNA (DIs) rapidly upon in vitro passage, and that these are associated with IFN induction. Importantly, the DIs were edited extensively; up to 70 % of the original A and T residues had mutated to G or C, respectively. Such high editing rates of viral RNA have not, to our knowledge, been reported before. Bioinformatics and PCR assays indicated that adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) was the most likely editing enzyme. HMPV thus has an unusually high propensity to generate DIs, which are edited at an unprecedented high frequency. The conflicting published data on HMPV IFN induction and antagonism are probably explained by DIs in virus stocks. The interaction of HMPV DIs with the RNA-editing machinery and IFN responses warrants further investigation.