Publications (250)698.74 Total impact
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tula virus (TULV) is a vole-associated hantavirus with low or no pathogenicity to humans. In the present study, 686 common voles (Microtus arvalis), 249 field voles (Microtus agrestis) and 30 water voles (Arvicola spec.) were collected at 79 sites in Germany, Luxembourg and France and screened by RT-PCR and TULV-IgG ELISA. TULV-specific RNA and/or antibodies were detected at 43 of the sites, demonstrating a geographically widespread distribution of the virus in the studied area. The TULV prevalence in common voles (16.7 %) was higher than that in field voles (9.2 %) and water voles (10.0 %). Time series data at ten trapping sites showed evidence of a lasting presence of TULV RNA within common vole populations for up to 34 months, although usually at low prevalence. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated a strong genetic structuring of TULV sequences according to geography and independent of the rodent species, confirming the common vole as the preferential host, with spillover infections to co-occurring field and water voles. TULV phylogenetic clades showed a general association with evolutionary lineages in the common vole as assessed by mitochondrial DNA sequences on a large geographical scale, but with local-scale discrepancies in the contact areas.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is an important driver for resistance- and virulence factor accumulation in pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. Methods: Here, we have investigated the downstream region of the bacterial chromosomal attachment site (attB) for the staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) element of a commensal mecC-positive Staphylococcus stepanovicii strain (IMT28705; ODD4) with respect to genetic composition and indications of HGT. S. stepanovicii IMT28705 was isolated from a fecal sample of a trapped wild bank vole (Myodes glareolus) during a screening study (National Network on "Rodent-Borne Pathogens") in Germany. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of IMT28705 together with the mecC-negative type strain CM7717 was conducted in order to comparatively investigate the genomic region downstream of attB (GenBank accession no. KR732654 and KR732653). Results: The bank vole isolate (IMT28705) harbors a mecC gene which shares 99.2% nucleotide (and 98.5% amino acid) sequence identity with mecC of MRSA_LGA251. In addition, the mecC-encoding region harbors the typical blaZ-mecC-mecR1-mecI structure, corresponding with the class E mec complex. While the sequences downstream of attB in both S. stepanovicii isolates (IMT28705 and CM7717) are partitioned by 15 bp direct repeats, further comparison revealed a remarkable low concordance of gene content, indicating a chromosomal "hot spot" for foreign DNA integration and exchange. Conclusion: Our data highlight the necessity for further research on transmission routes of resistance encoding factors from the environmental and wildlife resistome.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nomenclature of hepatitis E virus (HEV) subtypes in the literature is inconsistent and makes comparison of different studies problematic. We provide a table of complete genome reference sequences for each subtype. The criteria for subtype assignment vary between different genotypes and methodologies, and so a conservative pragmatic approach has been favoured. Updates to this table will be posted on the ICTV website (http://talk.ictvonline.org/r.ashx?C). The use of common reference sequences will facilitate communication between researchers and help clarify the epidemiology of this important human pathogen. This subtyping procedure might be adopted for other Orthohepevirus taxa.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a human pathogen that is primarily transmitted by the fecal-oral route and causes a usually self-limiting acute viral hepatitis. The virus is endemic in developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America and is responsible for sporadic cases in industrialized countries. In western Europe, an increasing number of autochthonous cases have been associated with zoonotic transmissions of HEV from domestic and wild animals. In Germany, animal reservoirs for HEV have been mainly assigned to domestic pigs and wild boars. To investigate the potential role of deer as a reservoir of HEV, we surveyed HEV-specific antibodies and RNA in deer samples from geographic regions in Germany. We sampled red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) during active surveillance in three forest districts in northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony during 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively. Additionally, archived samples of red, roe, and fallow deer (Dama dama), collected in 2000-01 in German national parks, were included in the study. Antibody prevalence ranged from 2-3.3% in red deer to 5.4-6.8% in roe deer. Viral RNA was detected in red deer and fallow deer at prevalences of 2.0-6.6% and 4.3%, respectively. The investigation confirmed the presence of HEV infections in three deer species in Germany. Red, roe, and fallow deer should be further monitored to assess their role as hosts and potential reservoirs of HEV in Germany.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is an ancient and ubiquitous human pathogen recovered previously only from primates. The sole species of the genus Hepatovirus, existing in both enveloped and nonenveloped forms, and with a capsid structure intermediate between that of insect viruses and mammalian picornaviruses, HAV is enigmatic in its origins. We conducted a targeted search for hepatoviruses in 15,987 specimens collected from 209 small mammal species globally and discovered highly diversified viruses in bats, rodents, hedgehogs, and shrews, which by pairwise sequence distance comprise 13 novel Hepatovirus species. Near-complete genomes from nine of these species show conservation of unique hepatovirus features, including predicted internal ribosome entry site structure, a truncated VP4 capsid protein lacking N-terminal myristoylation, a carboxyl-terminal pX extension of VP1, VP2 late domains involved in membrane envelopment, and a cis-acting replication element within the 3D(pol) sequence. Antibodies in some bat sera immunoprecipitated and neutralized human HAV, suggesting conservation of critical antigenic determinants. Limited phylogenetic cosegregation among hepatoviruses and their hosts and recombination patterns are indicative of major hepatovirus host shifts in the past. Ancestral state reconstructions suggest a Hepatovirus origin in small insectivorous mammals and a rodent origin of human HAV. Patterns of infection in small mammals mimicked those of human HAV in hepatotropism, fecal shedding, acute nature, and extinction of the virus in a closed host population. The evolutionary conservation of hepatovirus structure and pathogenesis provide novel insight into the origins of HAV and highlight the utility of analyzing animal reservoirs for risk assessment of emerging viruses.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: In Germany, 17 % of the general human population have antibodies to hepatitis E virus (HEV) (recomLine HEV-IgG/IgM immunoassay [Mikrogen GmbH]). Wild boars represent an animal reservoir for HEV genotype 3, which is the common genotype in Germany. We estimated the seroprevalence among hunters with contact to wild boars to identify factors that may be associated with past or present HEV infection. Methods: In 2013, the local veterinarian authority in a district in Central Germany attended meetings of hunters who provided blood specimens and completed a questionnaire collecting information on age, sex, hunting-related activities and consumption of wild boar meat. Specimens of wild boars were taken during drive hunts in this district during the season 2012/2013. All specimens were tested for HEV RNA and anti-HEV IgM and IgG antibodies. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate prevalence ratios (PR) for the hunters. Results: Of 126 hunters (median age 55; 94 % male) 21 % tested positive for anti-HEV IgG antibodies (95 % confidence interval [CI] 13-28 %) (recomWell HEV IgG assay [Mikrogen GmbH]). Anti-HEV prevalence was highest in the age group of the 70-79-year-olds (67 %; 95 % CI 39-95 %). Wild boars showed an average anti-HEV prevalence of 41 %. HEV RNA was detected in 4/22 (18 %) liver specimens and in 1/22 (4.5 %) muscle specimens. Most wild boars were tested positive for HEV RNA (3/10; 30 %) and HEV-specific antibodies (7/15; 47 %) in the southwestern part of the district. Hunters preferring this hunting ground had a lower anti-HEV prevalence when gloves were frequently used during disembowelling of wild boars compared to hunters using gloves never or infrequently (age-adjusted PR 0.12; 95 % CI 0.02-0.86). Conclusions: Hunters may benefit from wearing gloves when in contact with blood or body fluids of HEV animal reservoirs. Anti-HEV prevalence among the hunters of this study did not significantly differ from that of the general population suggesting that other factors play a major role in the epidemiology of HEV in Germany.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two novel polyomaviruses (PyVs) were identified in kidney and chest-cavity fluid samples of wild bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and common voles (Microtus arvalis) collected in Germany. All cloned and sequenced genomes had the typical PyV genome organization, including putative open reading frames for early regulatory proteins large T antigen and small T antigen on one strand and for structural late proteins (VP1, VP2 and VP3) on the other strand. Virus-like particles (VLPs) were generated by yeast expression of the VP1 protein of both PyVs. VLP-based ELISA and large T-antigen sequence-targeted polymerase-chain reaction investigations demonstrated signs of infection of these novel PyVs in about 42% of bank voles and 18% of common voles. In most cases only viral DNA, but not VP1-specific antibodies were detected. In additional animals exclusively VP1-specific antibodies, but no viral DNA was detected, indicative for virus clearance. Phylogenetic and clustering analysis including all known PyV genomes placed novel bank vole and common vole PyVs amongst members of the tentative Wukipolymavirus genus. The other known four rodent PyVs, Murine PyV and Hamster PyV, and Murine pneumotropic virus and Mastomys PyV belong to different phylogenetic clades, tentatively named Orthopolyomavirus I and Orthopolyomavirus II, respectively. In conclusion, the finding of novel vole-borne PyVs may suggest an evolutionary origin of ancient wukipolyomaviruses in rodents and may offer the possibility to develop a vole-based animal model for human wukipolyomaviruses.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Military personnel serving in camp sites all over the world are often confronted with tropical diseases, many of which are rodent-borne. This study aimed at investigating the small mammal communities at three Northern Afghan military bases, determining the risk of rodent transfer to and from the bases and ultimately to define the risk of zoonotic infection in such installations. Rodents were trapped in three military camp sites and investigated by analysis of mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and D loop control region. The phylogeography was further determined by genetic analysis of a murine rhadinovirus infecting Afghan and European house mice. Small mammals consisted mainly of Eastern house mice. Genetic analysis of mice and murine rhadinovirus points towards a recruitment of indigenous house mice in the bases. The import of small mammals and their subsequent pathogens into Afghan military bases is unlikely. A detailed analysis of pathogens in these mammals with DNA microarray/next generation sequencing work-flow is in progress.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brucellosis is a widespread zoonotic disease introduced from animal reservoirs to humans. In Germany, bovine and ovine/caprine brucellosis were eradicated more than a decade ago and mandatory measures in livestock have been implemented to keep the officially brucellosis-free status. In contrast, surveillance of wildlife is still challenging, and reliable data on the prevalence of brucellae in small mammal populations do not exist. To assess the epidemiology of Brucella spp. in rodents and shrews, a molecular survey was carried out. A total of 537 rodents and shrews were trapped in four federal states located throughout Germany and investigated for the presence of Brucella. Using a two-step molecular assay based on the detection of the Brucella-specific bcsp31 and IS711 sequences in tissue samples, 14.2% (n = 76) of the tested animals were positive. These originated mainly from western and south-western Germany, where preliminary analyses indicate population density-dependent Brucella prevalence in voles (Myodes glareolus) and mice (Apodemus spp.). recA typing revealed a close relationship to a potentially novel Brucella species recently isolated from red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Austria. The molecular detection of brucellae in various rodent taxa and for the first time in shrew species shows that these animals may be naturally infected or at least have a history of exposure to Brucella spp.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To identify native wildlife species possibly susceptible to infection with Schmallenberg virus (SBV), a midge-transmitted orthobunyavirus that predominantly infects domestic ruminants, samples from various free-living ruminants, but also carnivores, small mammals and wild boar were analyzed serologically. Before 2011, no SBV-specific antibodies were detectable in any of the tested species, thereafter, a large proportion of the ruminant population became seropositive, while every sample taken from carnivores or small mammals tested negative. Surprisingly, SBV-specific-antibodies were also present in a large number of blood samples from wild boar during the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 hunting seasons. Hence, free-ranging artiodactyls may play a role as wildlife host.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We amplified and sequenced six complete genomes of a polyomavirus from feral Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) and from a long-term breeding colony derived from Norway rats. This virus, which is closely related to hamster polyomavirus and murine polyomavirus, may contribute to understanding the evolutionary history of rodent polyomaviruses. Copyright © 2015 Ehlers et al.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Importance: We report on the first detection and isolation of CPXV from a putative reservoir host, which enables comparative analyses to understand the infection cycle of these zoonotic orthopox viruses and the relevant genes involved. In vitro studies including whole-genome sequencing as well as in vivo experiments using the Wistar rat model and the vole reservoir host allowed us to establish links between genomic sequences and the in vivo properties (virulence) of the novel vole isolate in comparison to a recent zoonotic CPXV isolated from pet rats in 2009. Furthermore, the role of genes only present in a reservoir isolate can now be further analyzed. These studies allow, therefore, unique insights and conclusions about the role of the rodent reservoir in CPXV epidemiology and transmission, and the zoonotic threat that these viruses represent.
Dataset: Morger 2015
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bank voles can harbour Puumala virus (PUUV) and vole populations usually peak in years after beech mast. A beech mast occurred in 2014 and a predictive model indicates high vole abundance in 2015. This pattern is similar to the years 2009/2011 when beech mast occurred, bank voles multiplied and human PUUV infections increased a year later. Given similar environmental conditions in 2014/2015, increased risk of human PUUV infections in 2015 is likely. Risk management measures are recommended. © 2015 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Between 2011 and 2013, three breeders of variegated squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides) had encephalitis with similar clinical signs and died 2 to 4 months after onset of the clinical symptoms. With the use of a metagenomic approach that incorporated next-generation sequencing and real-time reverse-transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), the presence of a previously unknown bornavirus was detected in a contact squirrel and in brain samples from the three patients. Phylogenetic analyses showed that this virus, tentatively named variegated squirrel 1 bornavirus (VSBV-1), forms a lineage separate from that of the known bornavirus species. (Funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture [Germany] and others.)
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Between 2011 and 2013, three breeders of variegated squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides) had encephalitis with similar clinical signs and died 2 to 4 months after onset of the clinical symptoms. With the use of a metagenomic approach that incorporated next-generation sequencing and real-time reverse-transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), the presence of a previously unknown bornavirus was detected in a contact squirrel and in brain samples from the three patients. Phylogenetic analyses showed that this virus, tentatively named variegated squirrel 1 bornavirus (VSBV-1), forms a lineage separate from that of the known bornavirus species.
Institut für Interdisziplinäre Medizin HamburgHamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Robert Koch InstitutBerlín, Berlin, Germany