[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To date, Alphavirus infections and their most prominent member, chikungunya fever, a viral disease which first became apparent in Tanzania in 1953, have been very little investigated in regions without epidemic occurrence. Few data exist on burden of disease and socio-economic and environmental covariates disposing to infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract In Croatia, several rodent- and vector-borne agents are endemic and of medical importance. In this study, we investigated hantaviruses and, for the first time, tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and Rickettsia spp. in small wild rodents from two different sites (mountainous and lowland region) in Croatia. In total, 194 transudate and tissue samples from 170 rodents (A. flavicollis, n=115; A. agrarius, n=2; Myodes glareolus, n=53) were tested for antibodies by indirect immunoflourescence assays (IIFT) and for nucleic acids by conventional (hantaviruses) and real-time RT-/PCRs (TBEV and Rickettsia spp.). A total of 25.5% (24/94) of the rodents from the mountainous area revealed specific antibodies against hantaviruses. In all, 21.3% (20/94) of the samples from the mountainous area and 29.0% (9/31) from the lowland area yielded positive results for either Puumala virus (PUUV) or Dobrava-Belgrade virus (DOBV) using a conventional RT-PCR. All processed samples (n=194) were negative for TBEV by IIFT or real-time RT-PCR. Serological evidence of rickettsial infection was detected in 4.3% (4/94) rodents from the mountainous region. Another 3.2% (3/94) rodents were positive for Rickettsia spp. by real-time PCR. None of the rodents (n=76) from the lowland area were positive for Rickettsia spp. by real-time PCR. Dual infection of PUUV and Rickettsia spp. was found in one M. glareolus from the mountainous area by RT-PCR and real-time PCR, respectively. To our knowledge, this is the first detection of Rickettsia spp. in small rodents from Croatia. Phylogenetic analyses of S- and M-segment sequences obtained from the two study sites revealed well-supported subgroups in Croatian PUUV and DOBV. Although somewhat limited, our data showed occurrence and prevalence of PUUV, DOBV, and rickettsiae in Croatia. Further studies are warranted to confirm these data and to determine the Rickettsia species present in rodents in these areas.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-transmitted diseases are of great importance for the general health of the German population. Several viruses, such as tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV), Uukuniemi virus, Tribec virus, Eyach virus or bacteria, such as Borrelia, Rickettsiae, Francisella tularensis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis (CNM) and Coxiella burnetii were detected in the most prominent tick in Germany, the hard tick Ixodes ricinus. While infections, such as TBE and Lyme disease are well known, other infections are hardly known even among experts. Although there have been a few descriptions of isolated cases in Germany, a systematic investigation regarding the distribution and the pathogenic potential of these pathogens is still lacking. In particular elderly people and people with underlying diseases seem to be mostly affected. The importance of new infectious disease agents, such as Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis but also of long known pathogens, such as Rickettsiae still remains unclear, while some of them could be detected in 20 % of investigated ticks. Whether climate change contributes to the further distribution of these infectious agents remains unclear and requires further investigation. The increasing initiatives to create natural environments and the trend towards spending more time in nature for recreational activities will increase the danger of coming into contact with ticks and the respective infectious agents. Considering these circumstances an increase of diseases caused by these pathogens is to be expected.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Kemerovo group viruses are tick-transmitted members of Orbivirus genus of the Reoviridae family that can cause infections of the central nervous system of humans. In this work, Kemerovo virus (KEMV) RNA was detected for the first time in Novosibirsk region of Western Siberia, Russia, in Ixodes pavlovskyi and Ixodes persulcatus ticks.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 01/2014; · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viperin is an interferon-induced protein with a broad antiviral activity. This evolutionary conserved protein contains a radical S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) domain which has been shown in vitro to hold a [4Fe-4S] cluster. We identified tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) as a novel target for which human viperin inhibits production of the viral genome RNA. Wt viperin was found to require ER localization for full antiviral activity and to interact with the cytosolic Fe/S protein assembly factor CIAO1. Radiolabelling in vivo revealed incorporation of (55) Fe, indicative for the presence of an Fe-S cluster. Mutation of the cysteine residues ligating the Fe-S cluster in the central radical SAM domain entirely abolished both antiviral activity and incorporation of (55) Fe. Mutants lacking the extreme C-terminal W361 did not interact with CIAO1, were not matured, and were antivirally inactive. Moreover, intracellular removal of SAM by ectopic expression of the bacteriophage T3 SAMase abolished antiviral activity. Collectively, our data suggest that viperin requires CIAO1 for [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly, and acts through an enzymatic, Fe-S cluster and SAM-dependent mechanism to inhibit viral RNA synthesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The full genome sequences of three tick-borne encephalitis virus strains, two isolated from Ixodes ricinus ticks and one from the brain of a bank vole, Myodes glareolus, originating from the Slovak Republic were determined. Nucleotide sequences were found to be very similar (>99.5 % nt-identity) with only one distinct amino acid (aa) difference to each other. They all shared 30 aa-changes when compared to type strain Neudoerfl, isolated in neighboring Austria. An internal poly(A)-stretch similar to that of strain Neudoerfl was found only in TBEV strain 114 from a tick. Despite this heterogeneity in the 3'-NCR, the high level of sequence identity was striking, indicating a low rate of nucleotide substitutions of TBEV strains in Slovakia and no obvious relation to the host species.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Arthropod-borne viral encephalitis of diverse origins shows similar clinical symptoms, histopathology and magnetic resonance imaging, indicating that the patho mechanisms may be similar. There is no specific therapy to date. However, vaccination remains the best prophylaxis against a selected few. Regardless of these shortcomings, there are an increasing number of case reports that successfully treat arboviral encephalitis with high doses of intravenous immunoglobulins.
To our knowledge, high dose intravenous immunoglobulin has not been tested systematically for treating severe cases of tick-borne encephalitis. Antibody-dependent enhancement has been suspected, but not proven, in several juvenile cases of tick-borne encephalitis. Although antibody-dependent enhancement during secondary infection with dengue virus has been documented, no adverse effects were noticed in a controlled study of high dose intravenous immunoglobulin therapy for dengue-associated thrombocytopenia. The inflammation-dampening therapeutic effects of generic high dose intravenous immunoglobulins may override the antibody-dependent enhancement effects that are potentially induced by cross-reactive antibodies or by virus-specific antibodies at sub-neutralizing levels.
Analogous to the increasing number of case reports on the successful treatment of other arboviral encephalitides with high dose intravenous immunoglobulins, we postulate whether it may be possible to also treat severe cases of tick-borne encephalitis with high dose intravenous immunoglobulins as early in the course of the disease as possible.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to obtain a better understanding of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) strain movements in central Europe the E gene sequences of 102 TBEV strains collected from 1953-2011 at 38 sites in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany were determined. Bayesian analysis suggests a 350-year history of evolution and spread in Central Europe of two main lineages A and B. In contrast to the east to west spread at the Eurasian continent level local Central European spreading patterns suggest historic west to east spread followed by more recent east to west spread. The phylogenetic and network analyses indicate TBEV ingressions from the Czech Republic and Slovakia into Germany via landscape features (Danube river system), biogenic factors (birds, red deer) and anthropogenic factors. The identification of endemic foci showing local genetic diversity is of paramount importance to the field as these will be a prerequisite for in depth analysis of focal TBEV maintenance and long distance TBEV spread.
Journal of General Virology 06/2013; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rickettsioses caused by typhus group rickettsiae have been reported in various African regions. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1,227 participants from 9 different sites in the Mbeya region, Tanzania; overall seroprevalence of typhus group rickettsiae was 9.3%. Risk factors identified in multivariable analysis included low vegetation density and highway proximity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role of wild mammals in the dissemination and maintenance of Rickettsia in nature is still under investigation. European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are often heavily infested by tick and flea species that are known to harbor and transmit different Rickettsia spp. We investigated ixodid ticks sampled from European hedgehogs for the presence of Rickettsia. A total of 471 Ixodes ricinus and 755 I. hexagonus were collected from 26 German and 7 British European hedgehogs. These were tested by a genus-specific real-time PCR assay targeting the citrate synthase gene (gltA). The rickettsia minimum infection rate was 11.7% with an increase detected with each parasitic tick stage. No significant difference in Rickettsia prevalence in the 2 Ixodes species was detected. Using sequencing of partial ompB, Rickettsia helvetica was the only species identified. More than half of the hedgehogs carried Rickettsia-positive ticks. In addition, tissue samples from 2/5 hedgehogs (where tissue DNA was available) were PCR-positive. These results show that European hedgehogs are exposed to R. helvetica via infected ticks and might be involved in the natural transmission cycle of this Rickettsia species.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 01/2013; · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) strain A104 was isolated from the brain of a yellow-necked mouse in Austria in 1990. The complete genome sequence was 11,097 nucleotides long. Comparison with TBEV prototype strain Neudoerfl showed 32 amino acid exchanges and the absence of an internal poly(A) stretch within the 3' noncoding region.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of our study was to assess the occurrence of Rickettsia in the inner-alpine valleys of the Eastern Alps and to determine the amount of seroreaction among the local human population. Ticks were investigated by PCR and the percentage of seropositives was determined among local blood donors by an in-house immunofluorescence assay. The local cut-off titre for screening of IgG was set at 1 : 128 with a well-characterised low-risk collective according to WHO-guidelines. Positive sera were confirmed by independent re-testing. Rickettsia is present in ticks north and south of the continental divide. Of 259 ticks investigated, 12.4% are positive for Rickettsia. Of over 1200 blood donors tested so far, 7.7% bear IgG at a titre of 1 : 128 or higher against R. helvetica. R. helvetica is present in the study area, causes immunoreaction among local residents and is associated with anamnestic erythema. Furthermore, screening with a second Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia indicates that significant parts of the Tyrolean population are exposed to a Rickettsia other than R. helvetica.
Zoonoses and Public Health 08/2012; · 2.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Erve virus (ERVEV) is a European Nairovirus that is suspected to cause severe headache (thunderclap headache) and intracerebral hemorrhage. The mode of transmission to humans (ticks or mosquitoes) is still unknown. Currently, no standardized testing method for ERVEV exists and only a small partial sequence of the polymerase gene is available. Here, we present the first complete genome sequence of ERVEV S, M, and L segments. Phylogenetic comparison of the amino acid sequence of the L-protein (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase) revealed only 48 % homology to available L-protein sequences of other Nairoviruses like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, Nairobi sheep disease virus, Hazara virus, Kupe virus, and Dugbe virus. Among themselves, these Nairoviruses show 62-89 % homology in the L-protein sequences. Therefore, ERVEV seems to be only distantly related to other Nairoviruses. The new sequence data can be used for the development of diagnostic methods and the identification of the natural vector.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) causes one of the most important inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, namely severe encephalitis in Europe and Asia. Since the 1980s tick-borne encephalitis is known in Mongolia with increasing numbers of human cases reported during the last years. So far, however, data on TBEV strains are still sparse. We herein report the isolation of a TBEV strain from Ixodes persulcatus ticks collected in Mongolia in 2010. Phylogenetic analysis of the E-gene classified this isolate as Siberian subtype of TBEV. The Mongolian TBEV strain showed differences in virus titers, plaque sizes, and growth properties in two human neuronal cell-lines. In addition, the 10,242 nucleotide long open-reading frame and the corresponding polyprotein sequence were revealed. The isolate grouped in the genetic subclade of the Siberian subtype. The strain Zausaev (AF527415) and Vasilchenko (AF069066) had 97 and 94 % identity on the nucleotide level. In summary, we herein describe first detailed data regarding TBEV from Mongolia. Further investigations of TBEV in Mongolia and adjacent areas are needed to understand the intricate dispersal of this virus.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since the year 2005, clinical patterns resembling tick-borne rickettsioses have been noticed in Mongolia. Epidemiological data regarding species of the aetiological agent, tick vector, prevalence, and distribution as well as incidence of human cases throughout Mongolia are still sparse to date. In order to identify Rickettsia species occurring in Mongolia, we investigated Dermacentor nuttalli (n=179) and Ixodes persulcatus (n=374) collected in 4 selected provinces. Rickettsia raoultii was the predominant Rickettsia (82% prevalence) found in D. nuttalli and was also detected in I. persulcatus (0.8%). The Rickettsia prevalence in D. nuttalli from different provinces varied between 70% and 97%. In addition, R. sibirica was identified in approximately 4% of D. nuttalli, but solely from Arkhanghai province. The results of this study extend the common knowledge about the geographic distribution of R. raoultii and its high prevalence in D. nuttalli. Although the pathogenicity of this Rickettsia is still unclear, it should be considered in Mongolian patients suspected of having tick-borne rickettsiosis.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases 07/2012; 3(4):227-31. · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is the most important tick-transmitted arbovirus causing human disease in Europe, but information on its endemic occurrence varies between countries because of differences in surveillance systems. Objective data are necessary to ascertain the disease risk for vaccination recommendations and other public health interventions. In two independent, separately planned projects, we used real-time RT-PCR to detect TBE virus in questing ticks. In Poland, 32 sampling sites were selected in 10 administrative districts located in regions where sporadic TBE cases were reported. In Germany, 18 sampling sites were selected in two districts located in a region with high TBE incidence. Altogether, >16 000 ticks were tested by real-time RT-PCR, with no sample testing positive for TBEV. A systematic search for published studies on TBEV prevalence in ticks in Poland and Germany also suggested that testing large numbers of collected ticks could not consistently assure virus detection in known endemic foci. Although assignment of results to administrative regions is essential for TBE risk mapping, this was possible in only 10 (investigating 22 417 ticks) of 15 published studies (>50 000 ticks) identified. We conclude that the collection and screening of ticks by real-time RT-PCR cannot be recommended for assessment of human TBE risk. Alternative methods of environmental TBEV monitoring should be considered, such as serological monitoring of rodents or other wildlife.
Zoonoses and Public Health 07/2012; · 2.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is the main tick-borne virus infection in Eurasia. It is prevalent across the entire continent from Japan to France and occurs in endemic foci. Expansion of prevalence in areas including northern Russia, Sweden, and Finland has been observed in recent years. Ticks are the most important vectors and may transmit the TBE virus to animals and humans. TBE can also be transmitted to humans in milk containing the virus. TBE has been implicated as a travel-acquired illness and there are isolated reports of its occurrence in countries outside the known areas of prevalence. Therefore, TBE should be included in the differential diagnosis for all central nervous system diseases inside or outside endemic areas.
Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 06/2012; 162(11-12):230-8.