[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have similar transmission routes, implying that patients infected with HIV are at particular risk for HBV infection. Patients who are co-infected with HIV and HBV progress more rapidly to end-stage liver disease and different HBV genotypes may have a distinct impact on disease progression. One hundred ninety-one anti-HBc-positive sera from Belgian patients co-infected with HIV and HBV were collected during 1998-2008. Full-length HBV genomes as well as large S or partial S genes were amplified and their molecular evolutionary history was analyzed. Clinically, 30 (65.8%) patients were categorized as "overt infection" and 16 (34.7%) cases were categorized as "occult infection." Five distinct HBV genotypes comprising A (69.6%), E (19.6%), followed by D, C, and G were detected. HBV genotype A was observed in all clinical groups and in patients with varying ethnical background. HBV genotype E could be detected in African patients who were mostly infected by heterosexual contacts. Several clinically important mutations at the HBs major hydrophilic region were detected in the new isolates but with no significant difference between occult and overt infection. The high prevalence of HBV genotype A in overt and occult cases, and in particular the detection of certain HBV subgenotypes in patients co-infected with HIV and HBV that carry diagnostic escape mutations, may provide useful information for national guidelines for prophylaxis and treatment.
Journal of Medical Virology 11/2011; 83(11):1876-84. · 2.37 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) sampling has been considered an inventive and novel method for the isolation of respiratory viruses.
In our study, 102 volunteers experiencing upper airway infection were recruited over the winter and early spring of 2008/2009 and the first half of the winter of 2009/2010. Ninety-nine EBCs were successfully obtained and screened for 14 commonly circulating respiratory viruses. To investigate the efficiency of virus isolation from EBC, a nasal swab was taken in parallel from a subset of volunteers. The combined use of the ECoVent device with the RTube™ allowed the registration of the exhaled volume and breathing frequency during collection. In this way, the number of exhaled viral particles per liter air or per minute can theoretically be estimated.
Viral screening resulted in the detection of 4 different viruses in EBC and/or nasal swabs: Rhinovirus, Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus B, Influenza A and Influenza B. Rhinovirus was detected in 6 EBCs and 1 EBC was Influenza B positive. We report a viral detection rate of 7% for the EBCs, which is much lower than the detection rate of 46.8% observed using nasal swabs.
Although very promising, EBC collection using the RTube™ is not reliable for diagnosis of respiratory infections.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The epidemic history of HCV genotype 5a is poorly documented in France, where its prevalence is very low, except in a small central area, where it accounts for 14.2% of chronic hepatitis C cases. A Bayesian coalescent phylogenetic investigation based on the E1 envelope gene and a non-structural genomic segment (NS3/4) was carried out to trace the origin of this epidemic using a large sample of genotype 5a isolates collected throughout France. The dates of documented transmissions by blood transfusion were used to calibrate five nodes in the phylogeny. The results of the E1 gene analysis showed that the best-fitting population dynamic model was the expansion growth model under a relaxed molecular clock. The rate of nucleotide substitutions and time to the most recent common ancestors (tMRCA) of genotype 5a isolates were estimated. The divergence of all the French HCV genotype 5a strains included in this study was dated to 1939 [95% HPD: 1921-1956], and the tMRCA of isolates from central France was dated to 1954 [1942-1967], which is in agreement with epidemiological data. NS3/4 analysis provided similar estimates with strongly overlapping HPD values. Phylodynamic analyses give a plausible reconstruction of the evolutionary history of HCV genotype 5a in France, suggesting the concomitant roles of transfusion, iatrogenic route and intra-familial transmission in viral diffusion.
Infection, genetics and evolution: journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases 01/2011; 11(2):496-503. · 3.22 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to study the hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemiology in Flanders, Belgium, the HCV genotype of 2,301 patients diagnosed with HCV between 2001 and 2009 was determined. HCV genotyping was conducted using the Versant LiPA 1.0 or Versant LiPA 2.0 assay. To explore the transmission history of a remarkable cluster of the rarely found HCV genotype 5a, face-to-face interviews based on detailed questionnaires and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analysis were performed. HCV genotype 1 was the most prevalent genotype in all provinces, followed by HCV genotype 3 in East Flanders, Antwerp, Flemish Brabant and Limburg. In Brussels, HCV genotype 4 was the second most prevalent genotype. This observation is due to the immigration of patients from the Middle East and Africa. Remarkably, a cluster of HCV genotype 5a was found in West Flanders, where it represents the second most prevalent genotype, accounting for 26.2% of HCV infections. We could not identify one major transmission source explaining the whole HCV genotype 5a epidemic. Instead, several smaller possible transmission chains were identified and confirmed phylogenetically. Overall, the HCV genotype 5a epidemic in West Flanders seems to be mainly associated with blood transfusion and unsafe medical practices.
European Journal of Clinical Microbiology 11/2010; 29(11):1427-34. · 3.02 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Molecular evolutionary patterns of 62 HBV full-length genomes obtained from Belgian patients were characterized. Phylogenetic analysis revealed diverse HBV subgenotypes including A2 and A6 (46.8%), D1-D4 (38.8%), E (9.7%), C1 (1.6%), and B2 (1.6%). The study population consisted of patients with different ethnic origin (Caucasian, Turkish, Asian, Arab, and African). One HBV D/C recombinant isolate was identified, which encoded subtype adw2. An HBV subgenotype D4 with an aberrant subtype ayw4 was detected. Although none of the genotypes was associated with a specific disease outcome, several nucleotide substitutions, deletions and insertions were observed within the HBV preS1/S and X genes, particularly among patients with active chronic hepatitis B infection and patients with cirrhosis. Within the immunological domain of the HBsAg gene, the most frequent substitutions were sT125M and sT118A. High rates of precore and basal core promoter mutations were detected in patients infected with genotype D of HBV. Almost half of the patients who received lamivudine therapy for at least 1 year had HBV variants associated with lamivudine drug resistance. In conclusion, the most common HBV genotypes in West Europe (A and D) also prevail in Belgium. The highest degree of genetic diversity was detected in HBV genotype D. In addition, this study reveals the circulation of exotic HBV genotypes B, C, and E in Belgium. J. Med. Virol. 82:379-389, 2010. (c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Journal of Medical Virology 03/2010; 82(3):379-89. · 2.37 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HCV replicates in liver via an intermediate negative strand RNA. To study the relevance of HCV genome replication, quantitative strand-specific HCV real-time RT-PCR assays were developed and applied to livers explanted because of end-stage cirrhosis. The assays have broad ranges of determination and a high reproducibility and accuracy. Analysis of five different samples showed an even distribution of HCV genomes in four livers. Hepatic concentrations of positive (PS)- and negative (NS)-strand RNA did correlate with each other, with PS/NS ratios ranging between 3 and 340. Hepatic concentrations of HCV-PS or -NS RNA did not correlate with serum HCV-RNA levels or with genotypes. A high HCV envelope-2 protein expression correlated with a low NS concentration. HCV-PS and -NS levels, E2 protein expression and genotype did not correlate with biochemical tests or with histological changes in the explanted liver, but the ratio NS/PS, a marker of viral replication, correlated with the severity of the recurrent post-transplant hepatitis caused by HCV. This suggests the existence of an extra-hepatic location of HCV with comparable viral replication rate being responsible for the infection of the newly transplanted liver.
Journal of Medical Virology 10/2009; 81(9):1569-75. · 2.37 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is primarily transmitted from mother to child, by sexual contact, intravenous drug abuse, or unsafe health care-related injection practices. Despite increased safety efforts, nosocomial acquired hepatitis B infection remains problematic.
A large HBV outbreak was investigated comprising 36 patients with acute HBV infection in a primary care physician's practice.
In a retrospective study (2003-2008), 36 serum samples from patients with acute HBV infection were collected. They had received several injections by the same physician at least 3 months before the onset of clinical symptoms. As a control group, sera were collected from HBV patients from other physicians from the same province. Full-length HBV genomes were amplified and were phylogenetically analysed.
HBV complete genomes of 32 patients were successfully amplified and sequenced, and clustered together with the reference genotype A, subgenotype A2 strains. We also analysed 26 control HBV genotype A samples. All 32 HBV strains from the patient group clustered in a monophyletic branch with a bootstrap value of 100, whereas the control samples branched separately in another clade. The genetic distance value showed small differences within the patients group, whereas the rate within the control group was seven times higher. These observations confirm that the source of transmission was clearly different in both groups.
Maximum likelihood analysis and genetic distance calculations based on the full-length genomes of HBV strains isolated from patients and controls provided strong evidence for a common nosocomial source of infection for all 32 patient cases.
Journal of clinical virology: the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology 10/2009; 46(1):61-8. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Until recently, human coronaviruses (HCoVs), such as HCoV strain OC43 (HCoV-OC43), were mainly known to cause 15 to 30% of mild upper respiratory tract infections. In recent years, the identification of new HCoVs, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, revealed that HCoVs can be highly pathogenic and can cause more severe upper and lower respiratory tract infections, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia. To date, no specific antiviral drugs to prevent or treat HCoV infections are available. We demonstrate that chloroquine, a widely used drug with well-known antimalarial effects, inhibits HCoV-OC43 replication in HRT-18 cells, with a 50% effective concentration (+/- standard deviation) of 0.306 +/- 0.0091 microM and a 50% cytotoxic concentration (+/- standard deviation) of 419 +/- 192.5 microM, resulting in a selectivity index of 1,369. Further, we investigated whether chloroquine could prevent HCoV-OC43-induced death in newborn mice. Our results show that a lethal HCoV-OC43 infection in newborn C57BL/6 mice can be treated with chloroquine acquired transplacentally or via maternal milk. The highest survival rate (98.6%) of the pups was found when mother mice were treated daily with a concentration of 15 mg of chloroquine per kg of body weight. Survival rates declined in a dose-dependent manner, with 88% survival when treated with 5 mg/kg chloroquine and 13% survival when treated with 1 mg/kg chloroquine. Our results show that chloroquine can be highly effective against HCoV-OC43 infection in newborn mice and may be considered as a future drug against HCoVs.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 07/2009; 53(8):3416-21. · 4.57 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In July 2004, a sharp increase of hepatitis A, a notifiable disease in Belgium, was detected.
We investigated the outbreak in order to identify the source and take appropriate action.
We conducted an outbreak investigation which included a matched case-control study to analyse the association with a range of food items and food providers. A phylogenetic analysis was used to study the relation between the outbreak cases and the identified source.
We registered 269 cases of hepatitis A. Consumption of raw beef (OR 16.0; 95% CI 2.1-120.7) was the most probable way of infection. A food handler working at an epidemiologically linked meat distribution plant had contracted hepatitis A 1 month before the start of the outbreak. HAV strains from the food handler and the patients involved in the outbreak were monophyletically related.
Since serological immunity in Belgium is decreasing over time, foodborne outbreaks of hepatitis A are a substantial risk. In this outbreak, a single food handler, at the level of the distribution chain, has been identified as the most likely source, through cross-contamination of raw beef. This outbreak investigation suggests the need to consider vaccination against hepatitis A in food handlers.
Journal of clinical virology: the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology 02/2009; 44(3):207-10. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since auditory disability causes serious problems in the development of speech and in the total development of a child, it is crucial to diagnose possible hearing impairment as soon as possible after birth. This study evaluates the neonatal hearing screening program in Flanders, Belgium. The auditory ability of 118,438 babies was tested using the automated auditory brainstem response. We selected 194 babies with indicative hearing impairment and 332 matched controls to investigate the association between the presence of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in urine samples and sensorineural hearing loss and to analyze the sensibility and specificity of a cell culture assay and a quantitative PCR detection method. Our results indicate that significantly more babies with confirmed hearing impairment were HCMV positive after birth. Further, based on the results of our study, babies with HCMV viral loads above 4.5 log copies/ml urine seem to be 1.4 times more likely to have confirmed hearing impairment. Our follow-up study suggests that the hearing impairment of children infected with HCMV after birth is less likely to improve than that of HCMV-negative infants. Our results confirm that the presence of HCMV before or shortly after birth influences the outcome of hearing impairment.
Journal of clinical microbiology 10/2008; 46(11):3564-8. · 4.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotyping is a tool used to optimize antiviral treatment regimens. The newly developed Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 2.0 uses sequence information from both the 5' untranslated region and the core region, allowing distinction between HCV genotype 1 and subtypes c to l of genotype 6 and between subtypes a and b of genotype 1. HCV-positive samples were genotyped manually using the Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 2.0 system according to the manufacturer's instructions. For the comparison study, Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 1.0 was used. In this study, 99.7% of the samples could be amplified, the genotype of 96.0% of samples could be determined, and the agreement with the reference method was 99.4% when a genotype was determined. The reproducibility study showed no significant differences in performance across sites (P = 0.43) or across lots (P = 0.88). In the comparison study, 13 samples that were uninterpretable or incorrectly genotyped with Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 1.0 were correctly genotyped by Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 2.0. Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 2.0 is a sensitive, accurate, and reliable assay for HCV genotyping. The inclusion of the core region probes in Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 2.0 results in a genotyping success rate higher than that of the current Versant HCV genotype assay (LiPA) 1.0.
Journal of clinical microbiology 07/2008; 46(6):1901-6. · 4.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anti-alpha4 integrin therapy with natalizumab is efficacious in refractory Crohn's disease and in multiple sclerosis, but carries an estimated 1/1000 risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) caused by reactivation of latent JC virus infection. Although anti-alpha4 integrin therapies are likely to be introduced in the clinic, screening for the risk of PML has not been developed.
We prospectively collected urine, serum, plasma and buffy coats from 125 patients with Crohn's disease, 100 control subjects with gastrointestinal (GI) disease, and 106 healthy volunteers. Four to eight weeks after this first sample collection, we additionally collected a set of urine, serum, plasma and buffy coat samples from the 125 patients with Crohn's disease, and a next set of samples was collected 12-16 weeks after the first collection. JC viral loads were determined with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and JC virus seroprevalence with a specific enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA).
The overall JC virus seroprevalence was 65%. JC virus DNA copies were detected in the urine from 29-44% of subjects, both those with Crohn's disease and controls. Median viral loads were significantly higher in patients with Crohn's disease who were immunosuppressed (7.36x10(6) copies/ml) compared to healthy volunteers (2.77x10(5) copies/ml) and compared to GI controls (1.8x10(6) copies/ml). Clearance at any time point occurred in 4/107 (3.7%) subjects only. JC viraemia was found in two patients with Crohn's disease.
The natural history of JC virus in patients with Crohn's disease is still unknown. Our study results show that JC virus latency and urine viral shedding is frequent in immunosuppressed patients with Crohn's disease. More prospective studies are needed in order to agree on possible recommendations concerning the exclusion of patients with JCV viraemia from anti-alpha4 integrin treatment.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genome of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) exhibits a high genetic variability. This remarkable heterogeneity is mainly attributed to the gradual accumulation of mutational changes, whereas the contribution of recombination events to the evolution of HCV remains controversial so far. While performing phylogenetic analyses including a large number of sequences deposited in the GenBank, we encountered a full-length HCV sequence (AY651061) that showed evidence for inter-subtype recombination and was, therefore, subjected to a detailed analysis of its molecular structure. The obtained results indicated that AY651061 does not represent a “simple” HCV 1c isolate, but a complex 1a/1c mosaic genome, showing five putative breakpoints in the core to NS3 regions. To our knowledge, this is the first report on a mosaic HCV full- length sequence with multiple breakpoints. The molecular structure of AY651061 is reminiscent of complex homologous recombinant variants occurring among other members of the flaviviridae family, e.g. GB virus C, dengue virus, and Japanese encephalitis virus. Our finding of a mosaic HCV sequence may have important implications for many fields of current HCV research which merit careful consideration.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Puumala virus, a hantavirus belonging to the Bunyaviridae family, causes a human disease known as nephropathia epidemica, a mild form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. The implementation of effective decontamination procedures is critical in hantavirus research to minimize the risk of personnel exposure. This study investigated the efficacy of Clidox((R)), Dettol((R)), ethanol, Halamid-d((R)), peracetic acid, sodium hypochloride and Virkon((R))S for inactivating Puumala virus. A real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to quantify Puumala virus before and after treatment with these products. Inactivation of Puumala virus was effective after 10min with all products except ethanol. Inactivation with absolute ethanol was effective only after 30min. Using the qRT-PCR method, this study has shown that the commercially available products Clidox((R)), Halamid-d((R)) and Virkon((R))S in particular represent a rapid and safe way to decontaminate surfaces with possible Puumala virus contamination. These products can be used in solutions of 1-2%, with contact times greater than 10min, for inactivating effectively Puumala virus.
Journal of Virological Methods 05/2007; 141(1):111-5. · 1.90 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epidemiological and phylogenetic studies of hepatitis C virus (HCV) have identified six major HCV genotypes and have attempted to characterize their origin and spread worldwide. Putative regions of endemic infection have been identified for all HCV genotypes except HCV genotype 5a. Although HCV genotype 5a was previously thought to be largely restricted to the northern part of South Africa, this study reports an unexpected cluster of the genotype in West Flanders Province in Belgium. To investigate the molecular epidemiology of this cluster and of HCV genotype 5a in general, a rigorous phylogenetic analysis of Belgian and South African HCV genotype 5a samples was performed. Remarkably, the Belgian and South African strains form two distinct clusters of similar diversity. We used a Bayesian coalescent method to estimate the rate of virus spread through time for HCV genotype 5a in both regions. Our results indicate that HCV genotype 5a strains have been spreading independently in Belgium and South Africa for more than 100 years, with a rate of spread characteristic of an epidemic genotype. These findings have major implications for tracing the origin of HCV genotype 5a. Here, we speculate about the possible origins of these clusters.
Journal of Virology 06/2006; 80(9):4220-6. · 5.08 Impact Factor