[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A study was conducted in order to determine the occurrence of European Brown Hare Syndrome virus (EBHSV) in Denmark and possible relation between disease pathogenesis and Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) host genotype. Liver samples were examined from 170 brown hares (hunted, found sick or dead), collected between 2004 and 2009. Macroscopical and histopathological findings consistent with EBHS were detected in 24 (14.1%) hares; 35 (20.6%) had liver lesions not typical of the syndrome, 50 (29.4%) had lesions in other tissues and 61 (35.9%) had no lesions. Sixty five (38.2%) of 170 samples were found to be EBHSV-positive (RT-PCR, VP60 gene). In order to investigate associations between viral pathogenesis and host genotype, variation within the exon 2 DQA gene of MHC was assessed. DQA exon 2 analysis revealed the occurrence of seven different alleles in Denmark. Consistent with other populations examined so far in Europe, observed heterozygosity of DQA (H o = 0.1180) was lower than expected (H e = 0.5835). The overall variation for both nucleotide and amino acid differences (2.9% and 14.9%, respectively) were lower in Denmark than those assessed in other European countries (8.3% and 16.9%, respectively). Within the peptide binding region codons the number of nonsynonymous substitutions (dN) was much higher than synonymous substitutions (dS), which would be expected for MHC alleles under balancing selection. Allele frequencies did not significantly differ between EBHSV-positive and -negative hares. However, allele Leeu-DQA*30 was detected in significantly higher (P = 0.000006) frequency among the positive hares found dead with severe histopathological lesions than among those found sick or apparently healthy. In contrast, the latter group was characterized by a higher frequency of the allele Leeu-DQA*14 as well as the proportion of heterozygous individuals (P = 0.000006 and P = 0.027). These data reveal a polarisation between EBHSV pathogenesis and MHC class II genotype within the European brown hare in Denmark.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e74360. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: A West Nile virus (WNV) disease outbreak occurred in 2010 in northern Greece with a total of 262 laboratory-confirmed human cases and 35 deaths. A serological and molecular surveillance was conducted on samples of wild birds hunter-harvested prior to and during the outbreak. FINDINGS: Serum and tissue samples from 295 resident and migratory wild birds, hunter-harvested during the 2009--2010 and 2010--2011 hunting seasons at the epicenter of the outbreak in northern Greece, were tested for the presence of WNV-specific antibodies by immunofluorescence assay and virus neutralization test. WNV neutralizing antibodies were detected in 53 avian samples. Fourteen positive sera were obtained from birds hunter-harvested up to 8 months prior to the human outbreak. Specific genetic determinants of virulence (His249Pro NS3 mutation, E-glycosylation motif) were recognized in a WNV lineage 2 strain isolated from a hunter-harvested Eurasian magpie and a nucleotide mismatch was revealed between this strain and a mosquito WNV strain isolated one month earlier in the same area. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first report regarding exposure of wild birds to WNV prior to the 2010 outbreak, in Greece. Results provide evidence of the implication of wild birds in a local enzootic cycle that could allow WNV maintenance and amplification of the virus before and during the outbreak. Findings of past exposure of migratory birds to WNV upon their arrival in Greece during autumn migration, suggest avian species with similar migration traits as candidates for the introduction of WNV into Greece. The possibility that an endemic circulation of WNV could have caused the outbreak, after an amplification cycle due to favorable conditions cannot be excluded.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major number of West Nile virus (WNV) infections in humans occurred in 2010 in northern Greece, with 262 laboratory confirmed cases. In 2011, fewer cases were reported, but the pattern was more dispersed throughout the Greek mainland. Isolated strains were similar to lineage 2 strains detected in previous years in Austria and Hungary from birds of prey. We conducted a serological surveillance study on hunter-harvested wild birds, to determine possible exposure of avian species during the current outbreak. Serum samples from a total of 113 Eurasian magpies and 85 turtle doves (abundant resident and migratory avian species, respectively, with potential roles in WNV epidemiology) were tested. These birds were hunter-harvested during 2011 from various prefectures both affected and not affected by the WNV outbreak in Greece. Sera were tested for the presence of WNV IgG antibodies by indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Verification of positive results by a micro-virus neutralization test (VNT) was also performed. A total of 23 out of 113 (20.4%) Eurasian magpies and 6/85 (7.1%) turtle doves were found positive. Results showed association of human cases with wild birds’ exposure to the virus; no avian sera were found positive in prefectures not affected by the WNV outbreak. In contrast, positive avian sera were found in every prefecture that human WNV cases occurred in 2011. High seroprevalence in Eurasian magpies suggests high activity of WNV in the areas. Findings of past exposure of migratory birds like turtle doves to WNV upon their arrival in resting areas in Greece suggest various avian species with similar migration traits as target species for viral isolation studies, as they can be considered candidates for the introduction of WNV lineage 2 in Greece from Central Europe.
European Journal of Wildlife Research 08/2011; 58(4). · 1.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A West Nile virus (WNV) lineage 2 strain was molecularly identified and characterised in a Eurasian magpie hunted in Greece in 2010, during a WNV outbreak in humans. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the highest sequence similarity (>99%) with other WNV lineage 2 strains derived from birds of prey in Austria and Hungary (2004–2009). This first molecular detection of WNV in sedentary wild birds in Greece, which are possible reservoirs of the virus, is a public health concern.
Euro surveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin 01/2011; 16(18). · 5.49 Impact Factor