Steve C Essen

Institute for Animal Health, Ньюбери, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (22)49.33 Total impact

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    The Veterinary record 07/2014; · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) viruses of the H7 subtype generally cause mild disease in poultry. However the evolution of a LPAI virus into highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus results in the generation of a virus that can cause severe disease and death. The classification of these two pathotypes is based, in part, on disease signs and death in chickens, as assessed in an intravenous pathogenicity test, but the effect of LPAI viruses in turkeys is less well understood. During an investigation of LPAI virus infection of turkeys, groups of three-week-old birds inoculated with A/chicken/Italy/1279/99 (H7N1) showed severe disease signs and died or were euthanised within seven days of infection. Virus was detected in many internal tissues and organs from culled birds. To examine the possible evolution of the infecting virus to a highly pathogenic form in these turkeys, sequence analysis of the haemagglutinin (HA) gene cleavage site was carried out by analysing multiple cDNA amplicons made from swabs and tissue sample extracts employing Sanger and Next Generation Sequencing. In addition, a RT-PCR assay to detect HPAI virus was developed. There was no evidence of the presence of HPAI virus in either the virus used as inoculum or from swabs taken from infected birds. However, a small proportion (<0.5%) of virus carried in individual tracheal or liver samples did contain a molecular signature typical of a HPAI virus at the HA cleavage site. All the signature sequences were identical and were similar to HPAI viruses collected during the Italian epizootic in 1999/2000. We assume that the detection of HPAI virus in tissue samples following infection with A/chicken/Italy/1279/99 reflected amplification of a virus present at very low levels within the mixed inoculum but, strikingly, we observed no new HPAI virus signatures in the amplified DNA analysed by deep-sequencing.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e87076. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the first occurrence of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus [A(H1N1)pdm09] infection on two epidemiologically linked turkey breeder premises in the United Kingdom during December 2010 and January 2011. Clinically, the birds showed only mild signs of disease, with the major presenting sign being an acute and marked reduction in egg production, leading to the prompt reporting of suspected avian notifiable disease for official investigation. Presence of A(H1N1)pdm09 infection in the United Kingdom turkey breeder flocks was confirmed by detailed laboratory investigations including virus isolation in embryonated specific pathogen-free fowls' eggs, two validated real-time reverse transcription-PCR tests, and nucleotide sequencing of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes. These investigations revealed high nucleotide identity with currently circulating human A(H1N1)pdm09 strains, suggesting that human-to-poultry transmission (reverse zoonosis) was the most likely route of infection. Peak levels of human influenza-like illness community transmission also coincided with the onset of clinical signs in both affected turkey breeder flocks. This case demonstrated the value of the existing passive surveillance framework and associated veterinary and laboratory infrastructure that enables the detection and management of both exotic and new and emerging disease hazards and risks. The case also presents further evidence of the susceptibility of turkeys to infection with influenza A viruses of nonavian origin.
    Avian Diseases 12/2012; 56(4 Suppl):1062-7. · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In December 2010, infection with a H9N1 low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) virus was detected in a broiler breeder flock in East Anglia. Disease suspicion was based on acute drops in egg production in two of four sheds on the premises, poor egg shell quality and evidence of diarrhoea. H9N1 LPAI virus infection was confirmed by real-time reverse transcription PCR. Sequencing revealed high nucleotide identity of 93.6 per cent and 97.9 per cent with contemporary North American H9 and Eurasian N1 genes, respectively. Attempted virus isolation in embryonated specific pathogen free (SPF) fowls' eggs was unsuccessful. Epidemiological investigations were conducted to identify the source of infection and any onward spread. These concluded that infection was restricted to the affected premises, and no contacts or movements of poultry, people or fomites could be attributed as the source of infection. However, the infection followed a period of extremely cold weather and snow which impacted on the biosecurity protocols on site, and also led to increased wild bird activity locally, including waterfowl and game birds around the farm buildings. Analysis of the N1 gene sequence suggested direct introduction from wild birds. Although H9 infection in poultry is not notifiable, H9N2 LPAI viruses have been associated with production and mortality episodes in poultry in many parts of Asia and the Middle East. In the present H9N1 outbreak, clinical signs were relatively mild in the poultry with no mortality, transient impact on egg production and no indication of zoonotic spread. However, this first reported detection of H9 LPAI virus in chickens in England was also the first H9 UK poultry case for 40 years, and vindicates the need for continued vigilance and surveillance of avian influenza viruses in poultry populations.
    The Veterinary record. 09/2012; 171(15):372.
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    ABSTRACT: The influence of different glycosylation patterns of the haemagglutinin glycoprotein of H7N1 avian influenza viruses on virus replication in vivo was examined. Experimental infection of chickens and turkeys was carried out with H7N1 avian influenza viruses with alternative sites of glycosylation in the haemagglutinin and infected birds were sampled daily by swabbing the buccal and cloacal cavities. cDNAs of the HA1 coding region of the HA gene were prepared from the swabs and cloned into plasmids. Sequencing multiple plasmids made from individual swabs taken over the period of virus shedding showed that viruses with specific patterns of glycosylation near the receptor binding site were stable when birds were infected with a single variant, but when presented with a mixed population of viruses encoding differing patterns of glycosylation a specific variant was rapidly selected in the infected host.
    Virology 09/2012; 433(2):282-95. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Infection of pigs with influenza A H1N1 2009 virus (A(H1N1)pdm09) was first detected in England in November 2009 following global spread of the virus in the human population. This paper describes clinical and epidemiological findings in the first English pig farms in which A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza virus was detected. These farms showed differences in disease presentation, spread and duration of infection. The factors likely to influence these features are described and relate to whether pigs were housed or outdoors, the age of the pigs, inter-current disease and the management system of the unit. Infection could be mild or clinically inapparent in breeding pigs with more typical respiratory disease being identified later in their progeny. Mortality was low where disease was uncomplicated by environmental stresses or concurrent infections. Where deaths occurred in pigs infected with A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza, they were mainly due to other infections, including streptococcal disease due to Streptococcus suis infection. This paper demonstrates the ease with which A(H1N1)pdm09 virus was transmitted horizontally and maintained in a pig population.
    The Veterinary record. 08/2012; 171(11):271.
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    ABSTRACT: Outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry can be devastating, yet many of the basic epidemiological parameters have not been accurately characterised. In 1999-2000 in Northern Italy, outbreaks of H7N1 low pathogenicity avian influenza virus (LPAI) were followed by the emergence of H7N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI). This study investigates the transmission dynamics in turkeys of representative HPAI and LPAI H7N1 virus strains from this outbreak in an experimental setting, allowing direct comparison of the two strains. The fitted transmission rates for the two strains are similar: 2.04 (1.5-2.7) per day for HPAI, 2.01 (1.6-2.5) per day for LPAI. However, the mean infectious period is far shorter for HPAI (1.47 (1.3-1.7) days) than for LPAI (7.65 (7.0-8.3) days), due to the rapid death of infected turkeys. Hence the basic reproductive ratio, [Formula: see text] is significantly lower for HPAI (3.01 (2.2-4.0)) than for LPAI (15.3 (11.8-19.7)). The comparison of transmission rates and [Formula: see text] are critically important in relation to understanding how HPAI might emerge from LPAI. Two competing hypotheses for how transmission rates vary with population size are tested by fitting competing models to experiments with differing numbers of turkeys. A model with frequency-dependent transmission gives a significantly better fit to experimental data than density-dependent transmission. This has important implications for extrapolating experimental results from relatively small numbers of birds to the commercial poultry flock size, and for how control, including vaccination, might scale with flock size.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e45059. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Surveillance for influenza virus in pigs in the United Kingdom during spring 2010 detected a novel reassortant influenza virus. This virus had genes encoding internal proteins from pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus and hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes from swine influenza virus (H1N2). Our results demonstrate processes contributing to influenza virus heterogeneity.
    Emerging Infectious Diseases 06/2011; 17(6):1049-52. · 6.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study presents the results of the virological surveillance for swine influenza viruses (SIVs) in Belgium, UK, Italy, France and Spain from 2006 to 2008. Our major aims were to clarify the occurrence of the three SIV subtypes - H1N1, H3N2 and H1N2 - at regional levels, to identify novel reassortant viruses and to antigenically compare SIVs with human H1N1 and H3N2 influenza viruses. Lung tissue and/or nasal swabs from outbreaks of acute respiratory disease in pigs were investigated by virus isolation. The hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) subtypes were determined using standard methods. Of the total 169 viruses, 81 were classified as 'avian-like' H1N1, 36 as human-like H3N2 and 47 as human-like H1N2. Only five novel reassortant viruses were identified: two H1N1 viruses had a human-like HA and three H1N2 viruses an avian-like HA. All three SIV subtypes were detected in Belgium, Italy and Spain, while only H1N1 and H1N2 viruses were found in UK and Northwestern France. Cross-hemagglutination inhibition (HI) tests with hyperimmune sera against selected older and recent human influenza viruses showed a strong antigenic relationship between human H1N1 and H3N2 viruses from the 1980s and H1N2 and H3N2 human-like SIVs, confirming their common origin. However, antisera against human viruses isolated during the last decade did not react with currently circulating H1 or H3 SIVs, suggesting that especially young people may be, to some degree, susceptible to SIV infections.
    Zoonoses and Public Health 03/2011; 58(2):93-101. · 2.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is a requirement to detect and differentiate pandemic (H1N1) 2009 (H1N1v) and established swine influenza A viruses (SIVs) by real time reverse transcription (RRT) PCR methods. First, modify an existing matrix (M) gene RRT PCR for sensitive generic detection of H1N1v and other European SIVs. Second, design an H1 RRT PCR to specifically detect H1N1v infections. RRT PCR assays were used to test laboratory isolates of SIV (n = 51; 37 European and 14 North American), H1N1v (n = 5) and avian influenza virus (AIV; n = 43). Diagnostic sensitivity and specificity were calculated for swabs (n = 133) and tissues (n = 116) collected from field cases and pigs infected experimentally with SIVs and H1N1v. The "perfect match" M gene RRT PCR was the most sensitive variant of this test for detection of established European SIVs and H1N1v. H1 RRT PCR specifically detected H1N1v but not European SIVs. Validation with clinical specimens included comparison with virus isolation (VI) as a "gold standard", while field infection with H1N1v in swine was independently confirmed by sequencing H1N1v amplified by conventional RT PCR. "Perfect match" M gene RRT PCR had 100% sensitivity and 95.2% specificity for swabs, 93.6% and 98.6% for tissues. H1 RRT PCR demonstrated sensitivity and specificity of 100% and 99.1%, respectively, for the swabs, and 100% and 100% for the tissues. Two RRT PCRs for the purposes of (i) generic detection of SIV and H1N1v infection in European pigs, and for (ii) specific detection of H1N1v (pandemic influenza) infection were validated.
    Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 09/2010; 4(5):277-93. · 1.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The initial incursion of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza A virus (pH1N1) into a European pig population is reported. Diagnosis of swine influenza caused by pandemic virus was made during September 2009 following routine submission of samples for differential diagnosis of causative agents of respiratory disease, including influenza A virus. All four pigs (aged six weeks) submitted for investigation from a pig herd of approximately 5000 animals in Northern Ireland, experiencing acute-onset respiratory signs in finishing and growing pigs, were positive by immunofluorescence for influenza A. Follow-up analysis of lung tissue homogenates by real-time RT-PCR confirmed the presence of pH1N1. The virus was subsequently detected on two other premises in Northern Ireland; on one premises, detection followed the pre-export health certification testing of samples from pigs presumed to be subclinically infected as no clinical signs were apparent. None of the premises was linked to another epidemiologically. Sequencing of the haemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes revealed high nucleotide identity (>99.4 per cent) with other pH1N1s isolated from human beings. Genotypic analyses revealed all gene segments to be most closely related to those of contemporary pH1N1 viruses in human beings. It is concluded that all three outbreaks occurred independently, potentially as a result of transmission of the virus from human beings to pigs.
    The Veterinary record. 05/2010; 166(21):642-5.
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    ABSTRACT: The emergence and spread of H5N1 avian influenza viruses from Asia through to Europe and Africa pose a significant animal disease problem and have raised concerns that the virus may pose a pandemic threat to humans. The epizootological factors that have influenced the wide distribution of the virus are complex, and the variety of viruses currently circulating reflects these factors. Sequence analysis of the virus genes sheds light on the H5N1 virus evolution during its emergence and spread, but the degree of virus variation at the level of an individual infected bird has been described in only a few studies. Here, we describe some results of a study in which turkeys, ducks and chickens were infected with either one of two H5N1 or one of three H7N1 viruses, and the degree of sequence variation within an individual infected avian host was examined. We developed 'deep amplicon' sequence analysis for this work, and the methods and results provide a background framework for application to disease outbreaks in the field.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 10/2009; 364(1530):2739-47. · 6.23 Impact Factor
  • The Veterinary record 07/2009; 164(24):760-1. · 1.80 Impact Factor
  • Avian Diseases Digest 01/2009;
  • The Veterinary record 04/2008; 162(9):278-80. · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sporadic cases of an acute fall in milk production, “milk drop”, were investigated in a Holstein Friesian dairy herd in Devon. The investigation was a case control study with two controls per case. Paired blood samples demonstrated that rising antibody titres to human influenza A/England/333/80 (H1N1) and human influenza A/Eng/427/88 (H3N2) were associated with an acute fall in milk production. Rising titres to bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), bovine virus diarrhoea virus (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and parainfluenza virus 3 (PI3) were not associated with an acute fall in milk production. Cases with rises in antibody to influenza A had significantly higher respiratory scores and rectal temperatures than their controls. The mean loss of milk production for the cases with rises in antibody to influenza A compared to their controls was 159.9 L. This study provides further evidence that influenza A persists in cattle and causes clinical disease.
    The Veterinary Journal 01/2008; · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Real time reverse transcriptase (RRT)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection of Eurasian H5 avian influenza virus (AIV) isolates was adapted from an existing protocol, optimized, and validated using a number of genetically diverse H5 isolates (n = 51). These included 34 "Asian lineage" H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses (2004-2006), plus 12 other H5 isolates from poultry outbreaks and wild birds in the Eastern Hemisphere (1996-2005). All 51 were positive by H5 Eurasian RRT-PCR. Specificity was assessed by testing representative isolates from all other AL virus subtypes (n = 52), non-AI avian pathogens (n = 8), plus a negative population of clinical specimens derived from AI-uninfected wild birds and poultry (n = 604); all were negative by H5 Eurasian RRT-PCR. RNA was directly extracted from suspect HPAI H5N1 clinical specimens (Africa, Asia, and Europe; 2005-2006; n = 58) from dead poultry and wild birds, and 55 recorded as positive by H5 Eurasian RRT-PCR: Fifty-one of these 55 were in agreement with positive AIV isolation in embryonated chickens' eggs. H5 Eurasian RRT-PCR was invaluable in H5 outbreak diagnosis and management by virtue of its rapidity and high degree of sensitivity and specificity. This method provides a platform for automation that can be applied for large-scale intensive investigations, including surveillance.
    Avian Diseases 04/2007; 51(1 Suppl):373-7. · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 10.1637/7664-060906R1.1
    Avian Dis. 01/2007; 51:373-377.
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    ABSTRACT: There have been at least ten distinct outbreaks of LPAI or HPAI in poultry caused by H5 or H7 viruses in the last eight years in Europe and the Middle East. There appears to be an increased occurrence of such episodes consistent with global trends. As a result, surveillance systems have been enhanced to facilitate early detection of infection in poultry, together with active surveillance of wild bird populations. These complementary activities have resulted in the detection of a number of viruses in wild bird populations, including some with high genetic similarity to newly detected viruses in poultry, for example, H7N3 in Italy and H7N7 in the Netherlands. Furthermore, there is evidence for continued circulation of H5 and H7 viruses in wild Anseriformes, thereby presenting a real and current threat for the introduction of viruses to domestic poultry, especially those reared in outdoor production systems. Viruses of H9N2 subtype continue to circulate widely in the Middle East and are associated with significant disease problems in poultry. The epidemiology has the potential to be complicated further by introduction of novel viruses through illegal importation of captive birds, such as was detected with H5N1 in Belgium in 2004. Continual genetic exchange in the avian virus gene pool and independent evolution of all gene segments either within an individual host species or among wild bird hosts suggests that these viruses are not in evolutionary stasis in the natural reservoir.
    Developments in biologicals 02/2006; 124:45-50.
  • L P Phipps, S C Essen, I H Brown
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    ABSTRACT: Influenza A viruses are subtyped conventionally according to the antigenic characteristics of the external glycoproteins, haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). To date 15 HA and 9 NA subtypes have been described. There is a need to develop fast, accurate and reliable methods to identify influenza virus subtypes, which may be associated with disease outbreaks. An RT-PCR is described using a single primer pair based on a conserved region of the HA2 gene that can detect all 15 HA influenza A subtypes. The assay was validated initially using a panel of 12 known standard prototype strains of influenza virus representing 6 HA subtypes and subsequently in a blind study using a panel of 30 strains. Selected viruses represented all known HA subtypes derived from avian, swine and human hosts separated both geographically and with time Sequence analysis of RT-PCR product showed complete correlation with results obtained using conventional serological methods. It is concluded that this RT-PCR is a reliable, robust and reproducible tool for the rapid identification of a wide range of all the HA subtypes of influenza A viruses.
    Journal of Virological Methods 01/2005; 122(1):119-22. · 1.90 Impact Factor