[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the recent discovery of genetically divergent hantaviruses in shrews of multiple species in widely separated geographic regions, data are unavailable about the genetic diversity and phylogeography of Thottapalayam virus (TPMV), a hantavirus originally isolated from an Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus) captured in southern India more than four decades ago. To bridge this knowledge gap, the S, M, and L segments of hantavirus RNA were amplified by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction from archival lung tissues of Asian house shrews captured in Nepal from January to September 1996. Pair-wise alignment and comparison revealed approximately 80% nucleotide and > 94% amino acid sequence similarity to prototype TPMV. Phylogenetic analyses, generated by maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods, showed geographic-specific clustering of TPMV, similar to that observed for rodent- and soricid-borne hantaviruses. These findings confirm that the Asian house shrew is the natural reservoir of TPMV and suggest a long-standing virus-host relationship.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 09/2011; 85(3):540-5. · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bartonellae were detected in a total of 152 (23.7%) of 642 tissues from 108 (48.4%) of 223 small mammals trapped in several urban areas of Nepal. Based on rpoB and gltA sequence analyses, genotypes belonging to seven known Bartonella species and five genotypes not belonging to previously known species were identified in these animals.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 10/2010; 76(24):8247-54. · 3.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The geographic distribution of leptospirosis is widespread but no national surveillance program exists in Nepal to establish the incidence of leptospirosis or the disease burden. This study reports the incidence of symptomatic leptospirosis in military personnel participating in an efficacy study of a hepatitis E virus vaccine in Nepal. Among the 1566 study volunteers who completed follow-up, we evaluated 271 illnesses over 2.2 years for the presence of leptospira IgM antibodies by ELISA. Positive ELISA results were confirmed by the microscopic agglutination test. The annual incidence of disease was between 3.5 and 6.1 cases/1000. The prevalence of confirmed leptospirosis was 9% among hepatitis cases and 8% among febrile cases. The most reactive serovars were Bratislava, Autumnalis, Icterohaemorrhagiae, and Sejroe. Leptospirosis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of febrile illnesses and icteric syndromes in Nepal. Additional studies are needed to establish the broader distribution and the spectrum of disease in Nepal.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 08/2010; 104(8):551-5. · 1.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an important cause of viral hepatitis. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of an HEV recombinant protein (rHEV) vaccine in a phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
In Nepal, we studied 2000 healthy adults susceptible to HEV infection who were randomly assigned to receive three doses of either the rHEV vaccine or placebo at months 0, 1, and 6. Active (including hospital) surveillance was used to identify acute hepatitis and adverse events. The primary end point was the development of hepatitis E after three vaccine doses.
A total of 1794 subjects (898 in the vaccine group and 896 in the placebo group) received three vaccine doses; the total vaccinated cohort was followed for a median of 804 days. After three vaccine doses, hepatitis E developed in 69 subjects, of whom 66 were in the placebo group. The vaccine efficacy was 95.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 85.6 to 98.6). In an intention-to-treat analysis that included all 87 subjects in whom hepatitis E developed after the first vaccine dose, 9 subjects were in the vaccine group, with a vaccine efficacy of 88.5% (95% CI, 77.1 to 94.2). Among subjects in a subgroup randomly selected for analysis of injection-site findings and general symptoms (reactogenicity subgroup) during the 8-day period after the administration of any dose, the proportion of subjects with adverse events was similar in the two study groups, except that injection-site pain was increased in the vaccine group (P=0.03).
In a high-risk population, the rHEV vaccine was effective in the prevention of hepatitis E. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00287469 [ClinicalTrials.gov].).
New England Journal of Medicine 04/2007; 356(9):895-903. · 54.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A cohort of 62 Nepalese adults with acute hepatitis E was identified and total Ig as well as IgM levels to hepatitis E virus (HEV) capsid protein were determined using the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) immunoassay. An antibody profile was constructed from serial serum specimens collected up to 14 months following the onset of illness. The decline in total Ig was rapid for the first 3 months. There followed a slow, sustained decline, but antibodies remained above the seropositive level of 20 WRAIR units. The decline of IgM was steeper than total Ig for the first 3 months, but IgM remained detectable after 14 months in 25% of cases. Study data contribute to an understanding of the pathophysiology of human hepatitis E and set an antibody response pattern to be targeted as a part of HEV vaccine development.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 11/2006; 100(10):938-41. · 1.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes hepatitis E, a public health problem in many developing countries. Several outbreaks of hepatitis E have been reported in military environments. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of a HEV recombinant protein (rHEV) vaccine in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. In Nepal, we studied 2,000 healthy adults susceptible to HEV who were randomized to receive 3 doses of either the rHEV vaccine (1,000) or placebo (1,000) at months 0, 1 and 6. Active and hospital surveillance were used to identify acute hepatitis and adverse events. The primary endpoint was hepatitis E occurring after 3 vaccine doses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an important cause of enterically transmitted hepatitis in developing countries. Sporadic autochthonous cases of hepatitis E have been reported recently in the United States and other industrialized countries. The source of HEV infection in these cases is unknown; zoonotic transmission has been suggested. Antibodies to HEV have been detected in many animals in areas where HEV is endemic and in domestic swine and rats in the United States. There is evidence supporting HEV transmission between swine and humans. Nevertheless, HEV has not been detected in wild rodents. We tested murid rodents and house shrews trapped in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, where hepatitis E is hyperendemic, for HEV infection. The most commonly trapped species was Rattus rattus brunneusculus. Serum samples from 675 animals were tested for immunoglobulin G against HEV by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; 78 (12%) were positive, indicating acute or past infection. Antibody prevalence was higher among R. rattus brunneusculus and Bandicota bengalensis than in Suncus murinus. Forty-four specimens from 78 antibody-positive animals had sufficient residual volume for detection of HEV RNA (viremia) by reverse transcription-PCR. PCR amplification detected four animals (9%; three were R. rattus brunneusculus and one was B. bengalensis) with viremia. Phylogenetic analysis of the four genome sequences (405 bp in the capsid gene) recovered showed that they were identical, most closely related to two human isolates from Nepal (95 and 96% nucleotide homology, respectively), and distinct from HEV sequences isolated elsewhere. These data prove that certain peridomestic rodents acquire HEV in the wild and suggest that cross-species transmission occurs, with rodents serving as a virus reservoir for humans.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology 04/2006; 44(3):1208. · 4.07 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diagnosis of acute hepatitis E by detection of hepatitis E virus (HEV)-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) is an established procedure. We investigated whether quantitation of HEV IgM and its ratio to HEV total Ig furnished more information than conventional IgM tests that are interpreted as positive or negative. A previously described indirect immunoassay for total Ig against a baculovirus-expressed HEV capsid protein was modified to quantitate HEV-specific IgM in Walter Reed (WR) antibody units by using a reference antiserum and the four-parameter logistic model. A receiver-operating characteristics curve derived from 197 true-positive specimens and 449 true-negative specimens identified 30 WR units/ml as an optimum cut point. The median HEV IgM level in 36 patients with acute hepatitis E fell from 3,000 to 100 WR units/ml over 6 months, suggesting that 100 WR units/ml would be a more appropriate cut point for distinguishing recent from remote IgM responses. Among three hepatitis E case series, determination of the HEV IgM-to-total-Ig ratio in acute-phase serum revealed that most patients had high ratios consistent with primary infections whereas a few had low ratios, suggesting that they had sustained reinfections that elicited anamnestic antibody responses. The diagnostic utility of the new IgM test was similar to that of a commercially available test that uses different HEV antigens. In conclusion, we found that HEV IgM can be detected specifically in >95% of acute hepatitis E cases defined by detection of the virus genome in serum and that quantitation of HEV IgM and its ratio to total Ig provides insight into infection timing and prior immunity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We developed a quantitative enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for antibody to hepatitis E virus (HEV) by using truncated HEV capsid protein expressed in the baculovirus system to improve seroepidemiology, to contribute to hepatitis E diagnosis, and to enable vaccine evaluations. Five antigen lots were characterized; we used a reference antiserum to standardize antigen potency. We defined Walter Reed antibody units (WR U) with a reference antiserum by using the four-parameter logistic model, established other reference pools as assay standards, and determined the conversion factor: 1 WR U/ml = 0.125 World Health Organization unit (WHO U) per ml. The EIA performed consistently; median intra- and inter-test coefficients of variation were 9 and 12%, respectively. The accurate minimum detection limit with serum diluted 1:1,000 was 5.6 WR U/ml; the test could detect reliably a fourfold antibody change. In six people followed from health to onset of hepatitis E, the geometric mean antibody level rose from 7.1 WR U/ml to 1,924.6 WR U/ml. We used the presence of 56- and 180-kDa bands by Western blotting as a confirmatory test and to define true-negative and -positive serum specimens. A receiver-operating characteristics plot identified 30 WR U/ml as an optimum cut-point (sensitivity, 86%; specificity, 89%). The EIA detected antibody more sensitively than a commercially available test. The EIA was transferred to another laboratory, where four operators matched reference laboratory results for a panel of unknowns. Quantitation of antibody to HEV and confirmation of its specificity by Western blotting make HEV serology more meaningful.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Military global influenza surveillance began in 1976 as an Air Force program. In 1997, the Department of Defense (DoD) Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System expanded the program to include all services. Also included were local residents in areas where DoD overseas research activities operated. This new, worldwide DoD surveillance infrastructure provides valuable information and can respond quickly to outbreaks. This was demonstrated during the current influenza season when a suspected outbreak was reported in Panama. In less than 3 weeks, specimens were collected, transported, and cultured, and isolates were subtyped and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further studies. This influenza surveillance initiative combines viral isolation, antigenic characterization, and molecular sequencing with clinical and public health management of information. The information obtained is shared with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and has contributed to important decisions in influenza vaccine composition.
Military medicine 08/2000; 165(7 Suppl 2):52-6. · 0.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E disease is responsible for substantial morbidity in Nepal. A socioeconomic analysis was performed to describe the costs and the effects of hepatitis E disease (HE) on health status in a Nepalese population living in the Kathmandu Valley. A modified health status index was used to quantify healthy days lost associated with HE. One hundred thirty-four individuals recently recovered from HE were interviewed in June 1998. The median age was 22 years and 60% were female. Study participants were sick and bedridden for a median of 22 and 10 days, respectively. The median healthy days lost per individual was 35 (768,000 total per region). The median cost of illness per individual, including direct and indirect, was $37 ($1,238,676 total per region). The percentage of yearly income lost for wage earners totaled 19.4%. Hepatitis E disease is associated with significant costs and loss of healthy days in Nepal. Further research is warranted to understand and limit this common disease.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 10/1999; 61(3):505-10. · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: From 29 January 1995 to 15 March 1995, an outbreak of hepatitis occurred among 692 soldiers at an isolated training camp 25 km east of Kathmandu. Thirty-two cases occurred approximately 8 weeks after arrival of soldiers at the camp. To determine the etiology of the outbreak, patient sera were examined for evidence of infection with hepatitis A, B, C, and E viruses using commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to detect hepatitis E virus (HEV) RNA. Evidence of recent infection (IgM to HEV and/or HEV RNA) was found in all but two patients, whereas none had evidence of recent infection with hepatitis A, B, or C viruses. Therefore, the outbreak was attributed to HEV. Fecally contaminated drinking water was suspected as the source of the outbreak. To determine the extent of HEV infections among those without clinical hepatitis, sera from the remaining soldiers were examined for markers of HEV infection. Evidence of past infection (IgG to HEV in the absence of IgM or HEV RNA) was found among 204 soldiers (prevalence = 30%), leaving 488 individuals susceptible to infection at the onset of the outbreak. Evidence of recent infection was found among another 83 individuals. We conclude that most exposed, susceptible soldiers sustained HEV infection without experiencing overt hepatitis. If the levels of virus inoculum and prior immunity in this population were typical, inapparent infection may be the usual adult response to virus exposure in an endemic area.
Journal of Medical Virology 03/1998; 54(3):178-82. · 2.37 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E has been the predominant type of acute hepatitis in Nepal both in adults and children, in sporadic and epidemic forms. We examined six hepatitis E virus (HEV) isolates obtained during an 8-year period, from 1987 to 1995, in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal. Analysis of portions of the putative helicase, polymerase and capsid genes demonstrated close genetic relatedness among themselves (> 96.4% identity) and with the Burmese (> 95.5%) and Indian (> 95.3%) isolates, and less so with the African (> 94.4%) and the Chinese (> 91%) isolates within the Asian genotype. Phylogenetic analysis placed the Nepali isolates in the Burma-India evolutionary branch and showed that the oldest isolate, TK78/87 was more similar to the Burmese isolates whereas the most recent isolates were closer to the Indian ones. Assuming no frameshifts, the Nepali isolates showed high amino acid conservation, but also unique changes when compared to other HEV isolates. Amino acid residue 614 of the capsid protein was identified as a possible marker to distinguish the Burma-Nepal-India from the China-Central Asian Republics subgenotype, and the Mexico genotype.
Virus Research 11/1997; 52(1):87-96. · 2.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the first proven outbreak of Japanese encephalitis (JE) occurring in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. During September and October 1995, we treated 15 patients with meningo-encephalitis. All of the patients were Nepalese, all but one lived in the Kathmandu Valley, and their overall mortality was 53%. Anti-JE virus (JEV) IgM in the cerebrospinal fluid was found in the two cases for whom it was tested. The two tested patients were similar to the other patients in clinical presentation and in home location. We recommend immunization against JEV for those traveling to Kathmandu during the months of August to October.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 10/1997; 57(3):283-4. · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection and disease rates in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, serum was collected from 757 healthy Nepalese (ages 12-48 years) during March and September 1992 and September 1993. At each visit, reports of interval illness were obtained. Sera were examined for IgG to HEV, using a commercially available kit. Seroconversion was used as a marker for HEV infection, and an episode of hepatitis E was defined as a history of jaundice with seroconversion. Seroprevalence ranged from 16% to 31% and increased with age, whereas both infection and disease rates decreased with age. Infection and disease rates were as high as 99/1000 and 45/1000 person-years, respectively. These results highlight the importance of sporadic hepatitis E as a public health problem among adolescents and young adults in this region.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 10/1997; 176(3):763-6. · 5.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viremia, fecal shedding and antibody responses to hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections are poorly understood. To better characterize HEV infections, these responses were examined in 67 patients with acute markers for hepatitis E who were admitted to the Infectious Disease Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1993. A single stool and multiple sera from each patient were examined using polymerase chain reaction to detect HEV RNA. Sera were also examined for antibodies to HEV. Viremia, fecal shedding, and IgM and IgG to HEV were detected in 93%, 70%, 79%, and 87% of 67 patients, respectively. Viremia or fecal shedding (or both) were detected in 14 patients from whom IgM and IgG to HEV were not detected. Viremia lasted at least 2 weeks in nearly all subjects and at least 39 days in 1 subject. Our results suggest that viremia is a common occurrence in patients infected with HEV.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 11/1995; 172(4):927-33. · 5.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prevalence of hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections among 55 domestic swine living in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal was investigated. Sera and stool specimens were collected from 47 free-roaming swine and examined for the presence of HEV genomic sequences by the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Sera from these animals, as well as sera from eight other swine, were also examined for the presence of HEV-specific antibodies by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and by a fluorescent antibody blocking assay. Hepatitis E virus RNA was detected in the sera and/or stool of three of 47 swine, while HEV-specific antibodies were detected in 18 of 55 swine. These results indicate that HEV is a zoonotic virus, and that swine are among its natural hosts.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 10/1995; 53(3):228-32. · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sera from two groups of patients in Nepal with acute hepatitis were examined for the presence of antibodies to the hepatitis A, B, C, and E viruses to determine the etiology of viral hepatitis. The first group consisted of 43 consecutive acute hepatitis patients presenting at a clinic for tourists and foreign residents in Kathmandu from January 1987 to June 1988. The other group consisted of 95 consecutive acute hepatitis patients admitted during the same period at a hospital used predominantly by adult Nepalese residents of Kathmandu. Hepatitis A was diagnosed in 39 (91%) of the foreign patients and in one of the 95 Nepalese patients, whereas hepatitis E was diagnosed in four of the 43 foreign patients and in 90 (95%) of the Nepalese patients. No cases of hepatitis B or C were identified in either group, nor were any cases of dual infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis E virus (HEV) identified. These results suggest that in the Kathmandu Valley, hepatitis A is the predominant form of hepatitis among foreigners, hepatitis E is the predominant form of hepatitis among adult Nepalese, and both HAV and HEV are endemic to the Kathmandu Valley.
The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 07/1995; 52(6):506-7. · 2.53 Impact Factor