[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Pigs play a key epidemiologic role in the ecology of influenza A viruses (IAVs) emerging from animal hosts and transmitted to humans. Between 2008 and 2010, we investigated the health risk of occupational exposure to swine influenza viruses (SIVs) in Italy, during the emergence and spread of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (H1N1pdm) virus. METHODOLOGYPRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Serum samples from 123 swine workers (SWs) and 379 control subjects (Cs), not exposed to pig herds, were tested by haemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay against selected SIVs belonging to H1N1 (swH1N1), H1N2 (swH1N2) and H3N2 (swH3N2) subtypes circulating in the study area. Potential cross-reactivity between swine and human IAVs was evaluated by testing sera against recent, pandemic and seasonal, human influenza viruses (H1N1 and H3N2 antigenic subtypes). Samples tested against swH1N1 and H1N1pdm viruses were categorized into sera collected before (n. 84 SWs; n. 234 Cs) and after (n. 39 SWs; n. 145 Cs) the pandemic peak. HI-antibody titers ≥10 were considered positive. In both pre-pandemic and post-pandemic peak subperiods, SWs showed significantly higher swH1N1 seroprevalences when compared with Cs (52.4% vs. 4.7% and 59% vs. 9.7%, respectively). Comparable HI results were obtained against H1N1pdm antigen (58.3% vs. 7.7% and 59% vs. 31.7%, respectively). No differences were found between HI seroreactivity detected in SWs and Cs against swH1N2 (33.3% vs. 40.4%) and swH3N2 (51.2 vs. 55.4%) viruses. These findings indicate the occurrence of swH1N1 transmission from pigs to Italian SWs. CONCLUSIONSIGNIFICANCE: A significant increase of H1N1pdm seroprevalences occurred in the post-pandemic peak subperiod in the Cs (p<0.001) whereas SWs showed no differences between the two subperiods, suggesting a possible occurrence of cross-protective immunity related to previous swH1N1 infections. These data underline the importance of risk assessment and occupational health surveillance activities aimed at early detection and control of SIVs with pandemic potential in humans.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(2):e57576. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highly pathogenic (HP) and low pathogenic (LP) avian influenza viruses (AIVs) belonging to H5 and H7 subtypes have been found to be associated with human infection as the result of direct transmission from infected poultry. Human infections by AIVs can cause mild or subclinical disease, and serosurveys are believed to represent an important tool to identify risk of zoonotic transmission. Therefore, we sought to examine Italian poultry workers exposed during LPAI and HPAI outbreaks with the aim of assessing serologic evidence of infection with H5 and H7 AIVs. From December 2008 to June 2010 serum samples were collected from 188 poultry workers and 379 nonexposed controls in Northern Italy. The hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay using horse red blood cells (RBCs) and a microneutralization (MN)-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test were used to analyze human sera for antibodies against the following H5 and H7 LPAI viruses: A/Dk/It/4445/07(H5N2); A/Ty/It/2369/09(H5N7); A/Ty/It/218-193/ 10; A/Ck/It/3775/99(H7N1); A/Ty/It/214845/03(H7N3); and A/Dk/It/332145/09(H7N3). Since previous studies identified low antibody titer to AIVs in people exposed to infected poultry, a cutoff titer of > or = 1:10 was chosen for both serologic assays. Only HI-positive results confirmed by MN assay were considered positive for presence of specific antibodies. The Fisher exact test was used to analyze differences in seroprevalence between poultry workers and control groups, with the significance level set at P < 0.05. MN results showed a proportion of H7-seropositive poultry workers (6/188, i.e., 3.2%), significantly higher than that of controls (0/379), whereas no MN-positive result was obtained against three H5 LPAI subtypes recently identified in Italy. In conclusion, the survey indicated that assessing seroprevalence can be an important tool in risk assessment and health,surveillance of poultry workers.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This report describes a pandemic A/H1N1 (H1N1 pdm) virus outbreak occurred in December, 2009 in a swine farm used as research facility (Istituto Mediterraneo Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione) for preclinical studies, located in Sicily, Italy. All the 13 pigs of the farm, showed cough, fever, inappetence and weakness. At the same time, an unvaccinated worker of the stabling showed influenza-like symptoms. RNAv extracted from two swabs collected from infected pigs resulted positive by Real Time RT-PCR for Influenza A virus. Furthermore, after growth on embryonated eggs, viral isolates were identified by Real Time RT-PCR specific for H1N1 pdm virus and characterized antigenically. Sequencing of the whole genome was also performed. All sera taken from animals and from the worker were tested by a competitive influenza A ELISA and by the haemoagglutination inhibition test. Serological findings confirmed the circulation of influenza virus H1N1 pdm in pigs and the presence of specific antibodies against H1N1 pdm in human serum. The results of this study seem to support a H1N1 pdm transmission from man to animals showing the importance of serological and virological investigation to control the pig farms and the importance of close cooperation between the different authorities like veterinarian and human public.
Journal of Environmental Biology 03/2012; 33(2):155-7. · 0.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: infectious low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPaIVs) have been recently detected on feathers of wild ducks. Laboratory trial results suggested that the preen oil gland secretion, covering waterbirds' feathers, may attract and concentrate virus particles from aIV-contaminated waters to birds' bodies. We evaluated whether ducks can become infected by the ingestion of preen oil-associated viral particles, experimentally smeared on their plumage. In addition, we compared virologic and serologic results obtained from mallards whose feathers were experimentally infected, with those from wild mallards naturally carrying aIVs on feathers. Methods: we experimentally coated 7 mallards (anas plathyrynchos) using preen oil mixed with a LPaIV (h10n7 subtype), and housed them for 45 days with a control, uncoated duck. cloacal, oropharyngeal and feather swabs were collected from all birds and examined for aIV molecular detection and isolation. Blood samples were also taken to detect influenza specific antibodies. In addition, sera from 10 wild mallards, carrying on feathers infectious LPaIV h10n7, were examined. resuLts: virologic and serologic results indicated that through self-and allopreening all the birds experimentally coated with the preen oil/aIV mix and the control duck ingested viruses covering feathers and became infected. Virus isolation from feathers was up to 32 days post-coating treatment. one out of 8 wild mallards showing antibodies against type a influenza virus was seropositive for h10 subtype too. concLusIons: our experimental and field results show evidences suggesting that uninfected birds carrying viruses on their feathers, including immune ones, might play an active role in spreading aIV infection in nature. For this reason, routine aIV surveillance programs, aimed at detecting intestinal and/or respiratory viruses, should include the collection of samples, such as feather swabs, enabling the detection of viruses sticky to preened birds' bodies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Swine influenza monitoring programs have been in place in Italy since the 1990 s and from 2009 testing for the pandemic H1N1/2009 virus (H1N1pdm) was also performed on all the swine samples positive for type A influenza. This paper reports the isolation and genomic characterization of a novel H1N2 swine influenza reassortant strain from pigs in Italy that was derived from the H1N1pdm virus. In May 2010, mild respiratory symptoms were observed in around 10% of the pigs raised on a fattening farm in Italy. Lung homogenate taken from one pig showing respiratory distress was tested for influenza type A and H1N1pdm by two real time RT-PCR assays. Virus isolation was achieved by inoculation of lung homogenate into specific pathogen free chicken embryonated eggs (SPF CEE) and applied onto Caco-2 cells and then the complete genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis was performed from the CEE isolate. The lung homogenate proved to be positive for both influenza type A (gene M) and H1N1pdm real time RT-PCRs. Virus isolation (A/Sw/It/116114/2010) was obtained from both SPF CEE and Caco-2 cells. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all of the genes of A/Sw/It/116114/2010, with the exception of neuraminidase (NA), belonged to the H1N1pdm cluster. The NA was closely related to two H1N2 double reassortant swine influenza viruses (SIVs), previously isolated in Sweden and Italy. NA sequences for these three strains were clustering with H3N2 SIVs. The emergence of a novel reassortant H1N2 strain derived from H1N1pdm in swine in Italy raises further concerns about whether these viruses will become established in pigs. The new reassortant not only represents a pandemic (zoonotic) threat but also has unknown livestock implications for the European swine industry.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To investigate the molecular adaptation of influenza viruses during natural interspecies transmission, we performed a phenotypic and genotypic analysis of a low-pathogenic duck H7N3 influenza virus after experimental passages in turkey and quail. Results obtained showed differences in the HA receptor-binding and in NA enzyme activities in viruses recovered after passages in quail, compared to those obtained from passages in turkey. Sequencing of the HA, NA and genes of internal proteins of the viruses obtained from quail and turkey, identified several amino acid substitutions in comparison with the progenitor virus. Of note, in the quail-adapted viruses the emergence of a 23-amino acid deletion in the stalk of the NA and the introduction of a glycosylation site in the HA were a reminiscence of changes typically observed in nature confirming a potential role of the quail in the adaptation of wild birds viruses to domestic poultry.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The first outbreak of the pandemic H1N1 virus in a swine breeder farm in Italy in November 2009 was reported. Clinical signs observed in sows included fever, depression, anorexia and agalactia, while in piglets diarrhoea and weight loss. The morbidity in sows was approximately 30% and the accumulated mortality rate was similar with those usually reported in piggeries (<10%). Virus was isolated from piglets (A/Sw/It/290271/09) and the sequencing of the whole genome was then performed. Comparison with all (H1N1)v sequences available in GenBank shows A/Sw/It/290271/09 three unique amino-acid (aa) changes in PB2 (S405T), PB1 (K386R) and PA (K256Q), not yet associated to any well characterized phenotype markers of Influenza viruses. All eight aa at positions representing the so-called species specific swine-human signatures, found in both swine and in the pandemic H1N1v, are also present. The M2 protein displays the C55F and the PA protein the S409N substitutions, both corresponding to enhanced transmission phenotype markers. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the virus was genetically related to the pandemic H1N1 virus. In addition, serological samples were collected from 40 sows, of which 20 resulted positive to the pandemic H1N1 virus by HI test proving a virus circulation in the farm.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: From 1995 to 2002, 219 sera were collected in Northern Italy from wild pheasants, in order to establish the possible involvement of these Galliformes birds in the influenza ecology. A serological survey for avian influenza viruses (AIVs) was carried out by ELISA test in order to detect type A influenza antibodies. The overall seroprevalence was 12.3%, with yearly values ranging from 0% to 42.5%. No antibodies against either H5 or H7 AIV subtypes were found by hemagglutination-inhibition test. Data from 16 recaptured birds, among 113 animals banded for individual identification, showed seroconversions in 2 pheasants. Our results indicate AIV circulation in free-living pheasants; the involvement of this land-based bird species in influenza ecology is discussed.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wild aquatic birds in the Orders Anseriformes and Charadriiformes are the main reservoir hosts perpetuating the genetic pool of all influenza A viruses, including pandemic viruses. High viral loads in feces of infected birds permit a fecal-oral route of transmission. Numerous studies have reported the isolation of avian influenza viruses (AIVs) from surface water at aquatic bird habitats. These isolations indicate aquatic environments have an important role in the transmission of AIV among wild aquatic birds. However, the progressive dilution of infectious feces in water could decrease the likelihood of virus/host interactions. To evaluate whether alternate mechanisms facilitate AIV transmission in aquatic bird populations, we investigated whether the preen oil gland secretions by which all aquatic birds make their feathers waterproof could support a natural mechanism that concentrates AIVs from water onto birds' bodies, thus, representing a possible source of infection by preening activity. We consistently detected both viral RNA and infectious AIVs on swabs of preened feathers of 345 wild mallards by using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and virus-isolation (VI) assays. Additionally, in two laboratory experiments using a quantitative real-time (qR) RT-PCR assay, we demonstrated that feather samples (n = 5) and cotton swabs (n = 24) experimentally impregnated with preen oil, when soaked in AIV-contaminated waters, attracted and concentrated AIVs on their surfaces. The data presented herein provide information that expands our understanding of AIV ecology in the wild bird reservoir system.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(6):e11315. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A modified-live vaccine against the respiratory form of bovine coronavirus (BCoV) infection was developed by progressive attenuation of a respiratory strain (438/06-TN). The vaccine was found to be safe as four colostrum-deprived newborn calves remained healthy after oronasal administration of ten doses of the vaccine. The immunogenicity of the vaccine was assessed by intramuscular injection of one vaccine dose to 30 BCoV-antibody negative 2-3-month-old calves. At 30 days post-vaccination, all vaccinated calves displayed high antibody titres against BCoV. Sequence analysis of the S gene of wild-type and cell-adapted 438/06-TN strain detected 10 nucleotide changes, 9 of which were non-synonymous.
The New Microbiologica: official journal of the Italian Society for Medical Virology (SIVIM) 02/2009; 32(1):109-13. · 1.67 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The sequence of the full-length gene encoding for the main capsid protein VP2 of 58 canine parvovirus (CPV) type 2c strains, along with recent CPV-2a/2b strains, was determined and analysed in comparison with reference CPV isolates. The CPV-2c strains displayed a low genetic variability and shared amino acid changes already detected in recent CPV-2a/2b isolates, with a phylogenetic clustering accounting for their geographical distribution. Analysis of the selection pressure driving CPV evolution confirmed that the VP2 gene is under purifying selection. The emergence and global spread of the new CPV variant provides an interesting model to better understand virus evolution.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whether animals may act as reservoirs for human caliciviruses is unclear. By sequence analysis of a short fragment of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) region, porcine sapovirus (SaV) strains that genetically resemble human SaVs have been detected in piglets, but more-informative sequences (capsid gene) were not available for a precise characterization. In this study, the 3' terminus (the 3' end of open reading frame 1 [ORF1], including the polymerase complex and the complete capsid; ORF2; and the 3' untranslated region) of one such human SaV-like strain, 43/06-18p3/2006/It, was determined, revealing that these viruses are more related genetically to human (47.4 to 54.9% amino acid identity) than to animal (35.2 to 44.7% amino acid identity) SaVs in the capsid gene. In addition, the recombination-prone RdRp-capsid junction region was highly conserved with those of human SaVs of genogroup GI. The presence of porcine viruses similar to human SaVs is a significant finding because of the potential for zoonotic infections or generation of porcine/human recombinants.
Journal of clinical microbiology 07/2008; 46(6):1907-13. · 4.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Avian influenza infections by high and low pathogenicity H7 influenza viruses have caused several outbreaks in European poultry in recent years, also resulting in human infections. Although in some cases the source of H7 strains from domestic poultry was shown to be the viruses circulating in the wild bird reservoir, a thorough characterization of the entire genome of H7 viruses from both wild and domestic Eurasian birds, and their evolutionary relationships, has not been conducted. In our study, we have analysed low pathogenicity H7 influenza strains isolated from wild and domestic ducks in Italy and southern China and compared them with those from reared terrestrial poultry such as chicken and turkey. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the H7 haemagglutinin genes were all closely related to each other, whereas the remaining genes could be divided into two or more phylogenetic groups. Almost each year different H7 reassortant viruses were identified and in at least two different years more than one H7 genotype co-circulated. A recent precursor in wild waterfowl was identified for most of the gene segments of terrestrial poultry viruses. Our data suggest that reassortment allows avian influenza viruses, in their natural reservoir, to increase their genetic diversity. In turn this might help avian influenza viruses colonize a wider range of hosts, including domestic poultry.
Journal of General Virology 02/2008; 89(Pt 1):48-59. · 3.13 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is widespread in dogs in several countries and causes mild enteric illness evolving to severe enteritis in young pups. In in vitro cultures canine coronaviruses generally induce extensive cell death, however nature of the events leading to cell death remains largely unknown. We analysed the induction of cytopathic effect by CCoV in a canine fibrosarcoma cell line (A-72) in order to characterize the apoptotic effect in homologous cell system. Following CCoV infection A-72 cell line, which is permissive to CCoV, showed reduced growth rate, as detected by MTT assay, a standard colorimetric assay for measuring cellular proliferation, and underwent to apoptotic death. Starting from 24h after CCoV infection, cells morphology appeared dramatically changed, with cells rounding and detachment from culture surface. Morphologic and biochemical features of apoptosis, such as blebbing of the plasma membrane, translocation of phosphatidilserine to cell surface and annexin V positive staining, nuclear fragmentation, apoptotic bodies formation and DNA laddering, were detected in CCoV-infected cells. Propidium iodide staining of infected culture indicated the appearance of hypodiploid DNA peak corresponding to apoptotic cell population. Commonly to other animal coronavirus infection caspase-3 is likely to contribute to the execution phase of apoptosis induced by CCoV in A-72 cells since we found activation of enzymatic activity as well as procaspase-3 activating cleavage. Apoptotic death of infected cells is detrimental as it causes cell and tissue destruction as well as inflammatory responses. Therefore in the case of CCoV associated gastroenteritis, apoptosis of epithelial mucosa cells may be responsible for pathology induced by CCoV infection.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In December 2005, equine influenza virus infection was confirmed as the cause of clinical respiratory disease in vaccinated horses in Apulia, Italy. The infected horses had been vaccinated with a vaccine that contained strains representatives from both the European (A/eq/Suffolk/89) and American (A/eq/Newmarket/1/93) H3N8 influenza virus lineages, and the H7N7 strain A/eq/Praga/56. Genetic characterization of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes of the virus from the outbreak, indicated that the isolate (A/eq/Bari/2005) was an H3N8 strain closely related to recent representatives (Kentucky/5/02-like) of the American sub-lineage Florida, that was introduced in Italy through movement of infected horses from a large outbreak described in 2003 in United Kingdom. Strain A/eq/Bari/2005 displayed 9 amino acid changes in the HA1 subunit protein with respect to the reference American strain A/eq/Newmarket/1/93 contained in the vaccine. Four changes were localized in the antigenic regions C-D and likely accounted for the vaccine failure.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chloroquine is a 4-aminoquinoline previously used in malaria therapy and now becoming an emerging investigational antiviral drug due to its broad spectrum of antiviral activities. To explore whether the low pH-dependency of influenza A viruses might affect the antiviral effects of chloroquine at clinically achievable concentrations, we tested the antiviral effects of this drug on selected human and avian viruses belonging to different subtypes and displaying different pH requirements. Results showed a correlation between the responses to chloroquine and NH4Cl, a lysosomotropic agent known to increase the pH of intracellular vesicles. Time-of-addition experiments showed that the inhibitory effect of chloroquine was maximal when the drug had been added at the time of infection and was lost after 2 h post-infection. This timing approximately corresponds to that of virus/cell fusion. Moreover, there was a clear correlation between the EC50 of chloroquine in vitro and the electrostatic potential of the HA subunit (HA2) mediating the virus/cell fusion process. Overall, the present study highlights the critical importance of a host cell factor such as intravesicular pH in determining the anti-influenza activity of chloroquine and other lysosomotropic agents.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Canine distemper virus is the etiological agent of a severe disease in dogs and many other carnivores. Clinical diagnosis of canine distemper is difficult due to the broad spectrum of signs that may be confounded with other respiratory and enteric diseases of dogs. Accordingly, a laboratory confirmation is required for suspected cases. In this study a real-time RT-PCR assay was developed for detection and quantitation of canine distemper virus. The assay exhibited high specificity as all the negative controls (no-template-controls and samples from healthy sero-negative dogs) and other canine pathogens were not misdetected. Up to 1 x 10(2) copies of RNA were detected by the TaqMan assay, thus revealing a high sensitivity. Quantitative TaqMan was validated on clinical samples, including various tissues and organs collected from dogs naturally infected by canine distemper virus. Urines, tonsil, conjunctival swabs and whole blood were found to contain high virus loads and therefore proved to be suitable targets for detection of canine distemper virus RNA.
Journal of Virological Methods 10/2006; 136(1-2):171-6. · 1.90 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Coronavirus replication offers several attractive targets for chemotherapy. These include: viral entry (inhibited by chloroquine and peptides); viral RNA (targeted by antisense approaches/RNAi); the main protease 3CLpro (inhibited by peptidic molecules such as HIV-1 protease inhibitors and miscellaneous compounds); the accessory protease(s) PLpro(s) (inhibited by zinc ions); RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (inhibited by aurintricarboxylic acid and antisense approaches); and helicase (inhibited by bananins). Chloroquine and HIV-1 protease inhibitors (with well-known toxicity profiles) should be considered for clinical tests if severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) re-emerges; however, there are other attractive compounds. Lessons should be learnt from AIDS research for choosing the best strategies.