[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The availability of a robust disease model is essential for the development of countermeasures for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). While a rhesus macaque model of MERS-CoV has been established, the lack of uniform, severe disease in this model complicates the analysis of countermeasure studies. Modeling of the interaction between the MERS-CoV spike glycoprotein and its receptor dipeptidyl peptidase 4 predicted comparable interaction energies in common marmosets and humans. The suitability of the marmoset as a MERS-CoV model was tested by inoculation via combined intratracheal, intranasal, oral and ocular routes. Most of the marmosets developed a progressive severe pneumonia leading to euthanasia of some animals. Extensive lesions were evident in the lungs of all animals necropsied at different time points post inoculation. Some animals were also viremic; high viral loads were detected in the lungs of all infected animals, and total RNAseq demonstrated the induction of immune and inflammatory pathways. This is the first description of a severe, partially lethal, disease model of MERS-CoV, and as such will have a major impact on the ability to assess the efficacy of vaccines and treatment strategies as well as allowing more detailed pathogenesis studies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in 2012. Recently the MERS-CoV receptor dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) was identified and the specific interaction of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of MERS-CoV spike protein and DPP4 was determined by crystallography. Animal studies identified rhesus macaques but not hamsters, ferrets or mice to be susceptible for MERS-CoV. Here we investigated the role of DPP4 in this observed species tropism. Cell lines of human and non-human primate origin were permissive of MERS-CoV, whereas hamster, ferret or mouse cell lines were not, despite presence of DPP4. Expression of human DPP4 in non-susceptible BHK and ferret cells enabled MERS-CoV replication, whereas expression of hamster or ferret DPP4 did not. Modeling the binding energies of MERS-CoV spike protein RBD to DPP4 of human (susceptible) or hamster (non-susceptible) identified five amino acid residues involved in the DPP4-RBD interaction. Expression of hamster DPP4 containing the five human DPP4 amino acids rendered BHK cells susceptible to MERS-CoV, whereas expression of human DPP4 containing the five hamster DPP4 amino acids did not. Using the same approach, the potential of MERS-CoV to utilize the DPP4s of common Middle Eastern livestock was investigated. Modeling of the DPP4 MERS-CoV RBD interaction predicted the ability of MERS-CoV to bind the DPP4s of camel, goat, cow and sheep. Expression of the DPP4s of these species on BHK cells supported MERS-CoV replication. This suggests, together with the abundant DPP4 presence in the respiratory tract, that these species might be able to function as a MERS-CoV intermediate reservoir.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: On September 20, 2012, a Saudi Arabian physician reported the isolation of a novel coronavirus from a patient with pneumonia on ProMED-mail. Within a few days the same virus was detected in a Qatari patient receiving intensive care in a London hospital, a situation reminiscent of the role air travel played in the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2002. SARS-CoV originated in China's Guangdong Province and affected more than 8000 patients in 26 countries before it was contained six months later. Over a year after the emergence of this novel coronavirus-Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)-it has caused 178 laboratory confirmed cases and 76 deaths The emergence of a second highly pathogenic coronavirus within a decade highlights the importance of a coordinated global response incorporating reservoir surveillance, high-containment capacity with fundamental and applied research programs, and dependable communication pathways to ensure outbreak containment. Here we review the current state of knowledge on the epidemiology, ecology, molecular biology, clinical features and intervention strategies of the novel coronavirus, MERS-CoV. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 2001, outbreaks of Nipah virus have occurred almost every year in Bangladesh with high case-fatality rates. Epidemiological data suggest that in Bangladesh, Nipah virus is transmitted from the natural reservoir, fruit bats, to humans via consumption of date palm sap contaminated by bats, with subsequent human-to-human transmission. To experimentally investigate this epidemiological association between drinking of date palm sap and human cases of Nipah virus infection, we determined the viability of Nipah virus (strain Bangladesh/200401066) in artificial palm sap. At 22°C virus titers remained stable for at least 7 days, thus potentially allowing food-borne transmission. Next, we modeled food-borne Nipah virus infection by supplying Syrian hamsters with artificial palm sap containing Nipah virus. Drinking of 5×108 TCID50 of Nipah virus resulted in neurological disease in 5 out of 8 hamsters, indicating that food-borne transmission of Nipah virus can indeed occur. In comparison, intranasal (i.n.) inoculation with the same dose of Nipah virus resulted in lethal respiratory disease in all animals. In animals infected with Nipah virus via drinking, virus was detected in respiratory tissues rather than in the intestinal tract. Using fluorescently labeled Nipah virus particles, we showed that during drinking, a substantial amount of virus is deposited in the lungs, explaining the replication of Nipah virus in the respiratory tract of these hamsters. Besides the ability of Nipah virus to infect hamsters via the drinking route, Syrian hamsters infected via that route transmitted the virus through direct contact with naïve hamsters in 2 out of 24 transmission pairs. Although these findings do not directly prove that date palm sap contaminated with Nipah virus by bats is the origin of Nipah virus outbreaks in Bangladesh, they provide the first experimental support for this hypothesis. Understanding the Nipah virus transmission cycle is essential for preventing and mitigating future outbreaks.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is proposed to be a zoonotic disease; however, the reservoir and mechanism for transmission of the causative agent, the MERS coronavirus, are unknown. Dromedary camels have been implicated through reports that some victims have been exposed to camels, camels in areas where the disease has emerged have antibodies to the virus, and viral sequences have been recovered from camels in association with outbreaks of the disease among humans. Nonetheless, whether camels mediate transmission to humans is unresolved. Here we provide evidence from a geographic and temporal survey of camels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that MERS coronaviruses have been circulating in camels since at least 1992, are distributed countrywide, and can be phylogenetically classified into clades that correlate with outbreaks of the disease among humans. We found no evidence of infection in domestic sheep or domestic goats. IMPORTANCE This study was undertaken to determine the historical and current prevalence of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection in dromedary camels and other livestock in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the index case and the majority of cases of MERS have been reported.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wild aquatic birds are recognized as the natural reservoir of avian influenza A viruses (AIV), but across high and low pathogenic AIV strains, scientists have yet to rigorously identify most competent hosts for the various subtypes. We examined 11,870 GenBank records to provide a baseline inventory and insight into patterns of global AIV subtype diversity and richness. Further, we conducted an extensive literature review and communicated directly with scientists to accumulate data from 50 non-overlapping studies and over 250,000 birds to assess the status of historic sampling effort. We then built virus subtype sample-based accumulation curves to better estimate sample size targets that capture a specific percentage of virus subtype richness at seven sampling locations. Our study identifies a sampling methodology that will detect an estimated 75% of circulating virus subtypes from a targeted bird population and outlines future surveillance and research priorities that are needed to explore the influence of host and virus biodiversity on emergence and transmission.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(3):e90826. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2012, a novel betacoronavirus, designated Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV and associated with severe respiratory disease in humans, emerged in the Arabian Peninsula. To date, 108 human cases have been reported, including cases of human-to-human transmission. The availability of an animal disease model is essential for understanding pathogenesis and developing effective countermeasures. Upon a combination of intratracheal, ocular, oral, and intranasal inoculation with 7 × 10(6) 50% tissue culture infectious dose of the MERS-CoV isolate HCoV-EMC/2012, rhesus macaques developed a transient lower respiratory tract infection. Clinical signs, virus shedding, virus replication in respiratory tissues, gene expression, and cytokine and chemokine profiles peaked early in infection and decreased over time. MERS-CoV caused a multifocal, mild to marked interstitial pneumonia, with virus replication occurring mainly in alveolar pneumocytes. This tropism of MERS-CoV for the lower respiratory tract may explain the severity of the disease observed in humans and the, up to now, limited human-to-human transmission.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The emergence of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is of global concern: the virus has caused severe respiratory illness, with 111 confirmed cases and 52 deaths at the time of this article's publication. Therapeutic interventions have not been evaluated in vivo; thus, patient management relies exclusively on supportive care, which, given the high case-fatality rate, is not highly effective. The rhesus macaque is the only known model organism for MERS-CoV infection, developing an acute localized to widespread pneumonia with transient clinical disease that recapitulates mild to moderate human MERS-CoV cases. The combination of interferon-α2b and ribavirin was effective in reducing MERS-CoV replication in vitro; therefore, we initiated this treatment 8 h after inoculation of rhesus macaques. In contrast to untreated, infected macaques, treated animals did not develop breathing abnormalities and showed no or very mild radiographic evidence of pneumonia. Moreover, treated animals showed lower levels of systemic (serum) and local (lung) proinflammatory markers, in addition to fewer viral genome copies, distinct gene expression and less severe histopathological changes in the lungs. Taken together, these data suggest that treatment of MERS-CoV infected rhesus macaques with IFN-α2b and ribavirin reduces virus replication, moderates the host response and improves clinical outcome. As these two drugs are already used in combination in the clinic for other infections, IFN-α2b and ribavirin should be considered for the management of MERS-CoV cases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wild birds, particularly duck species, are the main reservoir of influenza A virus (IAV) in nature. However, knowledge of IAV infection dynamics in the wild bird reservoir, and the development of immune responses, are essentially absent. Importantly, a detailed understanding of how subtype diversity is generated and maintained is lacking. To address this, 18,679 samples from 7728 Mallard ducks captured between 2002 and 2009 at a single stopover site in Sweden were screened for IAV infections, and the resulting 1081 virus isolates were analyzed for patterns of immunity. We found support for development of homosubtypic hemagglutinin (HA) immunity during the peak of IAV infections in the fall. Moreover, re-infections with the same HA subtype and related prevalent HA subtypes were uncommon, suggesting the development of natural homosubtypic and heterosubtypic immunity (p-value = 0.02). Heterosubtypic immunity followed phylogenetic relatedness of HA subtypes, both at the level of HA clades (p-value = 0.04) and the level of HA groups (p-value = 0.05). In contrast, infection patterns did not support specific immunity for neuraminidase (NA) subtypes. For the H1 and H3 Clades, heterosubtypic immunity showed a clear temporal pattern and we estimated within-clade immunity to last at least 30 days. The strength and duration of heterosubtypic immunity has important implications for transmission dynamics of IAV in the natural reservoir, where immune escape and disruptive selection may increase HA antigenic variation and explain IAV subtype diversity. This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. Funding: This study was supported by grants from The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (V-124-01 and V-98-04), The Swedish Research Council (2008-58, 2010-3067, 2011-48), The Swedish Research Council Formas (2007-297, 2009-1220) and the Sparbanksstiftelsen Kronan. The surveillance at Ottenby was part of the European Union wild bird surveillance and has received support from the Swedish Board of Agriculture and from the EU NP6-funded New Flubird project. V.J.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wild birds, particularly duck species, are the main reservoir of influenza A virus (IAV) in nature. However, knowledge of IAV infection dynamics in the wild bird reservoir, and the development of immune responses, are essentially absent. Importantly, a detailed understanding of how subtype diversity is generated and maintained is lacking. To address this, 18,679 samples from 7728 Mallard ducks captured between 2002 and 2009 at a single stopover site in Sweden were screened for IAV infections, and the resulting 1081 virus isolates were analyzed for patterns of immunity. We found support for development of homosubtypic hemagglutinin (HA) immunity during the peak of IAV infections in the fall. Moreover, re-infections with the same HA subtype and related prevalent HA subtypes were uncommon, suggesting the development of natural homosubtypic and heterosubtypic immunity (p-value = 0.02). Heterosubtypic immunity followed phylogenetic relatedness of HA subtypes, both at the level of HA clades (p-value = 0.04) and the level of HA groups (p-value = 0.05). In contrast, infection patterns did not support specific immunity for neuraminidase (NA) subtypes. For the H1 and H3 Clades, heterosubtypic immunity showed a clear temporal pattern and we estimated within-clade immunity to last at least 30 days. The strength and duration of heterosubtypic immunity has important implications for transmission dynamics of IAV in the natural reservoir, where immune escape and disruptive selection may increase HA antigenic variation and explain IAV subtype diversity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The identification of a novel β coronavirus, nCoV, as the causative agent of severe respiratory illness in humans originating in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan has raised concerns about the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic similar to that of SARS-CoV. As a definitive treatment regimen has never been thoroughly evaluated for coronavirus infections, there is an urgent need to rapidly identify potential therapeutics to address future cases of nCoV. To determine an intervention strategy, the effect of interferon-α2b and ribavirin on nCoV isolate hCoV-EMC/2012 replication in Vero and LLC-MK2 cells was evaluated. hCoV-EMC/2012 was sensitive to both interferon-α2b and ribavirin alone in Vero and LLC-MK2 cells, but only at relatively high concentrations; however, when combined, lower concentrations of interferon-α2b and ribavirin achieved comparable endpoints. Thus, a combination of interferon-α2b and ribavirin, which are already commonly used in the clinic, may be useful for patient management in the event of future nCoV infections.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness characterized by multi-organ failure and hemorrhagic manifestations. Lassa fever is most frequently diagnosed in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, although sporadic cases have been recorded in other West African countries, including Mali. The etiological agent of Lassa fever is Lassa virus (LASV), an Arenavirus which is maintained in nature and frequently transmitted to humans by Mastomys natalensis. The purpose of this study was to better define the geographic distribution of LASV-infected rodents in sub-Saharan Mali.
Small mammals were live-trapped at various locations across Mali for the purpose of identifying potential zoonotic pathogens. Serological and molecular assays were employed and determined LASV infected rodents were exclusively found in the southern Mali near the border of Côte d'Ivoire. Overall, 19.4% of Mastomys natalensis sampled in this region had evidence of LASV infection, with prevalence rates for individual villages ranging from 0 to 52%. Full-length genomic sequences were determined using high throughput sequencing methodologies for LASV isolates generated from tissue samples of rodents collected in four villages and confirmed the phylogenetic clustering of Malian LASV with strain AV.
The risk of human infections with LASV is greatest in villages in southern Mali. Lassa fever should be considered in the differential diagnosis for febrile individuals and appropriate diagnostic techniques need to be established to determine the incidence of infection and disease in these regions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We explored the attachment of an H16N3 influenza virus to human, mallard, and gull tissues using virus histochemistry applied to tissue microarrays and employing human and mallard viruses as references. Of the viruses tested, the H16N3 gull virus most readily attached to the human respiratory tract and eye. These results underscore the need to assess the potential for gull influenza viruses to replicate in human tissues and further investigate the role of gulls in influenza virus ecology.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(4):e60757. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nipah virus is a zoonotic pathogen that causes severe disease in humans. The mechanisms of pathogenesis are not well described. The first Nipah virus outbreak occurred in Malaysia, where human disease had a strong neurological component. Subsequent outbreaks have occurred in Bangladesh and India and transmission and disease processes in these outbreaks appear to be different from those of the Malaysian outbreak. Until this point, virtually all Nipah virus studies in vitro and in vivo, including vaccine and pathogenesis studies, have utilized a virus isolate from the original Malaysian outbreak (NiV-M). To investigate potential differences between NiV-M and a Nipah virus isolate from Bangladesh (NiV-B), we compared NiV-M and NiV-B infection in vitro and in vivo. In hamster kidney cells, NiV-M-infection resulted in extensive syncytia formation and cytopathic effects, whereas NiV-B-infection resulted in little to no morphological changes. In vivo, NiV-M-infected Syrian hamsters had accelerated virus replication, pathology and death when compared to NiV-B-infected animals. NiV-M infection also resulted in the activation of host immune response genes at an earlier time point. Pathogenicity was not only a result of direct effects of virus replication, but likely also had an immunopathogenic component. The differences observed between NiV-M and NiV-B pathogeneis in hamsters may relate to differences observed in human cases. Characterization of the hamster model for NiV-B infection allows for further research of the strain of Nipah virus responsible for the more recent outbreaks in humans. This model can be used to study NiV-B pathogenesis, transmission, and countermeasures that could be used to control outbreaks.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2012 a novel coronavirus, MERS-CoV, associated with severe respiratory disease emerged in the Arabian Peninsula. To date, 55 human cases have been reported, including 31 fatal cases. Several of the cases were likely a result of human-to-human transmission. The emergence of this novel coronavirus prompts the need for a small animal model to study the pathogenesis of this virus and to test the efficacy of potential intervention strategies. In this study we explored the use of Syrian hamsters as a small animal disease model, using intratracheal inoculation and inoculation via aerosol. Clinical signs of disease, virus replication, histological lesions, cytokine upregulation nor seroconversion were observed in any of the inoculated animals, indicating that MERS-CoV does not replicate in Syrian hamsters.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e69127. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highly pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1 virus can cause morbidity and mortality in humans but thus far has not acquired the ability to be transmitted by aerosol or respiratory droplet ("airborne transmission") between humans. To address the concern that the virus could acquire this ability under natural conditions, we genetically modified A/H5N1 virus by site-directed mutagenesis and subsequent serial passage in ferrets. The genetically modified A/H5N1 virus acquired mutations during passage in ferrets, ultimately becoming airborne transmissible in ferrets. None of the recipient ferrets died after airborne infection with the mutant A/H5N1 viruses. Four amino acid substitutions in the host receptor-binding protein hemagglutinin, and one in the polymerase complex protein basic polymerase 2, were consistently present in airborne-transmitted viruses. The transmissible viruses were sensitive to the antiviral drug oseltamivir and reacted well with antisera raised against H5 influenza vaccine strains. Thus, avian A/H5N1 influenza viruses can acquire the capacity for airborne transmission between mammals without recombination in an intermediate host and therefore constitute a risk for human pandemic influenza.