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Hannimari Kallio-Kokko - Top 30 Publications

Seroprevalence of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and Ljungan virus in Finnish patients with suspected neurological infections.

Directly-transmitted rodent-borne zoonotic viruses, such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) can cause nervous system infections. Rodent-borne Ljungan virus (LV) is considered potentially zoonotic possibly causing neurological symptoms. Our objective was to understand the role of these two viruses compared to other pathogens in causing neurological infections in Finnish patients. Routine screening data were available for 400 patients aged 5-50 years, collected from December 2013 to December 2014 with suspected neurological infection. Depending on symptoms, patients were variously tested for herpesviruses, enteroviruses, varicella zoster virus, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, while those suspected of tick bite were further tested for Borrelia spp. and tick-borne encephalitis virus using antibody and/or nucleic acid tests. For 380 patients, we also screened the RNA and antibody prevalence of LCMV and LV in order to test if either of these viruses were the causative agent. Data collected indicated that the causative microbial agent was confirmed in only 15.5% of all Finnish patients with neurological symptoms, with M. pneumoniae (26 cases) being the most common causative agent found in sera, whereas Borrelia spp. (15), herpes simplex viruses (7), and enteroviruses (5) were the most common agents confirmed in the CSF. The seroprevalences for LV and LCMV were 33.8% and 5.0%, respectively, but no samples were PCR-positive. In this study, M. pneumoniae and Borrelia spp. were the most common causative agents of neurological infections in Finland. No LCMV or LV infections were detected. We conclude there was no association of LV with neurological diseases in this patient cohort.

Intertypic recombination of human parechovirus 4 isolated from infants with sepsis-like disease.

Human parechoviruses (HPeVs) (family Picornaviridae), are common pathogens in young children. Despite their high prevalence, research on their genetic identity, diversity and evolution have remained scarce.

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, Ljungan and orthopoxvirus seroconversions in patients hospitalized due to acute Puumala hantavirus infection.

The emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases are increasing in Europe. Prominent rodent-borne zoonotic viruses include Puumala hantavirus (PUUV; the causative agent of nephropathia epidemica, NE), lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), and orthopoxviruses (OPV). In addition, Ljungan virus (LV) is considered a potentially zoonotic virus.

Protein profiling of nasopharyngeal aspirates of hospitalized and outpatients revealed cytokines associated with severe influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infections: A pilot study.

Influenza A viruses (IAV) mutate rapidly and cause seasonal epidemics and occasional pandemics, which result in substantial number of patient visits to the doctors and even hospitalizations. We aimed here to identify inflammatory proteins, which levels correlated to clinical severity of the disease. For this we analysed 102 cytokines and growth factors in human nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA) samples of 27 hospitalized and 27 outpatients diagnosed with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infection. We found that the relative levels of monocyte differentiation antigen CD14, lipocalin-2 (LCN2), C-C-motif chemokine 20 (CCL20), CD147, urokinase plasminogen activator surface receptor (uPAR), pro-epidermal growth factor (EGF), trefoil factor 3 (TFF3), and macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) were significantly lower (p<0.008), whereas levels of retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4), C-X-C motif chemokine 5 (CXCL5), interleukin-8 (IL-8), complement factor D (CFD), adiponectin, and chitinase-3-like 1 (CHI3L1) were significantly higher (p<0.008) in NPA samples of hospitalized than non-hospitalized patients. While changes in CD14, LCN2, CCL20, uPAR, EGF, MIF, CXCL5, IL-8, adiponectin and CHI3L1 levels have already been correlated with severity of IAV infection in mice and humans, our study is the first to describe association of CD147, RBP4, TFF3, and CFD with hospitalization of IAV-infected patients. Thus, we identified local innate immune profiles, which were associated with the clinical severity of influenza infections.

Zika virus infection in a traveller returning from the Maldives, June 2015.

We report a Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in a patient with fever and rash after returning to Finland from Maldives, June 2015. The patient had dengue virus (DENV) IgG and IgM antibodies but pan-flavivirus RT-PCR and subsequent sequencing showed presence of ZIKV RNA in urine. Recent association of ZIKV with microcephaly highlights the need for laboratory differentiation of ZIKV from DENV infection and the circulation of ZIKV in areas outside its currently known distribution range.

Comparative Analysis of Whole-Genome Sequences of Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Viruses Isolated from Hospitalized and Nonhospitalized Patients Identifies Missense Mutations That Might Be Associated with Patient Hospital Admissions in Finland during 2009 to 2014.

Here, we report 40 new whole-genome sequences of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses isolated from Finnish patients during 2009 to 2014. A preliminary analysis of these and 186 other whole genomes of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses isolated from hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients during 2009 to 2014 in Finland revealed several viral mutations that might be associated with patient hospitalizations.

Development and evaluation of a real-time EBOV-L-RT-qPCR for detection of Zaire ebolavirus.

An RT-qPCR targeting EBOV-L including the preceding RNA extraction protocol were set up and evaluated.

Complete Genome Sequences of Influenza A/H1N1 Strains Isolated from Patients during the 2013-2014 Epidemic Season in Finland.

Here, we report 40 complete genome sequences of influenza A/H1N1 strains isolated from 33 nonhospitalized and 7 hospitalized patients during the 2013-2014 epidemic season in Finland. An analysis of the aligned sequences revealed no oseltamivir-resistant genotypes. As a whole, the recent viruses have drifted from the prototype A/California/7/2009 virus by ca. 1.3%.

Ebola: virus, disease, transmission--and preparedness in Finland.

Ebola virus has been transmitted from its reservoirs to a human at least about twenty times, established limited human-to-human transmission chains and caused severe generalized infections, often with symptoms involving hemorrhagic fever. Of the five viruses belonging to the genus Ebolavirus, four have been described to have caused human disease, three of them having caused epidemics (25 to 90% mortality). The present epidemic started in December 2013, evidently from a two-year-old child in Guinea, and spread to the neighboring countries as well. The causative agent of the epidemic is a Zaire ebolavirus strain having undergone a cross-species transfer. By October 25, 2014, the epidemic has caused 4,912 deaths in the epidemic region. The report reviews the background information on the virus, disease and its current spread, as well as describes the ebola preparedness currently in Finland.

Influenza pH1N1 Virus Accumulated H275Y Mutation in Neuraminidase during Propagation in MDCK Cells.

Here, we sequenced the genome of the influenza A/Finland/741 M/2014(H1N1) virus and found that the virus accumulated oseltamivir resistance mutation H275Y in its neuraminidase during propagation in cell culture. This indicates that propagation in cell culture modifies virus genomes. The instability of influenza genomes should be taken into consideration during drug-sensitivity studies.

Development and evaluation of a real-time RT-qPCR for detection of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus representing different genotypes.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a zoonotic disease caused by a nairovirus belonging to family Bunyaviridae. The CCHF virus (CCHFV) can be transmitted to humans by Hyalomma ticks as well as by direct contact with infected body fluids or tissues from viremic livestock or humans. Our aim was to set up a fast RT-qPCR for detection of the different CCHFV genotypes in clinical samples, including an inactivation step to make the sample handling possible in lower biosafety levels (BSL) than BSL-4. This method was evaluated against commercial reference assays and international External Quality Assessment (EQA) samples. The analytical limit of detection for the developed CCHFV-S RT-qPCR was 11 CCHFV genomes per reaction. After exclusion of four dubious samples, we studied 38 CCHFV-positive samples (using reference tests) of which 38 were found positive by CCHFV-S RT-qPCR, suggesting a sensitivity of 100%. CCHFV-S RT q-PCR detected all eight different CCHFV strains representing five different CCHFV genotypes. In conclusion, the CCHFV-S RT-qPCR described in this study was evaluated using various sources of CCHFV samples and shown to be an accurate tool to detect human CCHFV infection caused by different genotypes of the virus.

Human parechovirus type 3 and 4 associated with severe infections in young children.

The symptoms observed in children with human parechovirus (HPeV) infection vary widely from asymptomatic or mild gastrointestinal infections to more severe central nervous system infections and sepsis-like disease. Many of the disease associations are, however, only suggestive. In this study, we examined the connection between HPeV and acute otitis media, lower respiratory infections and suspected central nervous system infections.

Genetic Instability of Influenza pH1N1 Viruses.

Here, we report full-length genome sequences of influenza pH1N1 viruses obtained prior to and after propagation in MDCK cells. Paired comparisons of the genomes showed that each strain acquired 1.0 to 18.8 mutations per genome per replication cycle, which corresponds to 0.5 to 5.8 mutations per virus proteome per replication cycle. Our analysis indicates that pH1N1 viruses accumulated adaptive mutations among others in response to propagation in cell culture. These results could be important for vaccine and drug-sensitivity surveillance studies, as well as for vaccine and antiviral drug development programs where cell cultures are used for influenza propagation.

Suspected YF-AND after yellow fever vaccination in Finland.

Yellow fever (YF) vaccine is considered safe but vaccine-associated complications have also been encountered. We report neurological symptoms after YF-vaccination in a previously healthy Finnish male. Other concomitant infections or causes for the symptoms could not be identified.

Full-Genome Sequences of Influenza H3N2 Virus Strains Isolated from Finnish Patients during the 2012-2013 Epidemic Season.

Here, we sequenced 10 influenza A(H3N2) virus genomes isolated from Finnish patients diagnosed with flu-like illness during the 2012-2013 influenza season. The alignment showed a high number of amino acid substitutions (238 in total) in only 10 samples, proving that a high mutation rate exists in seasonal influenza A viruses.

Performance of a multiplexed serological microarray for the detection of antibodies against central nervous system pathogens.

Central nervous system (CNS) infections have multiple potential causative agents for which simultaneous pathogen screening can provide a useful tool. This study evaluated a multiplexed microarray for the simultaneous detection of antibodies against CNS pathogens. The performance of selected microarray antigens for the detection of IgG antibodies against herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), adenovirus, Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, was evaluated using serum sample panels tested with reference assays used in a routine diagnostic laboratory. The microarray sensitivity for HSV-1, HSV-2, VZV, adenovirus and M. pneumonia ranged from 77% to 100%, and the specificity ranged from 74% to 97%. Very variable sensitivities and specificities were found for borrelial antigens of three different VlsE protein IR(6) peptide variants (IR6p1, IR6p2, IR6p4) and three recombinant decorin binding proteins A (DbpA; DbpAIa, DbpA91, DbpAG40). For single antigens, good specificity was shown for antigens of IR6p4 and DbpAIa (96%), while DbpA91, IR6p1 and IR6p2 were moderately specific (88-92%). The analytical sensitivity of the microarray was dependent on the borrelial IgG concentration of the specimen. The overall performance and technical features of the platform showed that the platform supports both recombinant proteins, whole viruses and peptides as antigens. This study showed diagnostic potential for all six CNS pathogens, including Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, using glutaraldehyde based microarray, and further highlighted the importance of careful antigen selection and the requirement for the use of multiple borrelial antigens in order to increase specificity without a major lack of sensitivity.

Full-Genome Sequences of Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Viruses Isolated from Finnish Patients from 2009 to 2013.

Here we report full-length sequencing of the first large set of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus genomes isolated in Finland between the years 2009 and 2013 and discuss the advantages and needs of influenza virus sequencing efforts.

First two cases of neonatal human parechovirus 4 infection with manifestation of suspected sepsis, Finland.

Human parechoviruses are a family of viruses closely related to enteroviruses, and associated with neonatal sepsis-like syndrome, respiratory symptoms and gastrointestinal infection. Here we present clinical details of two neonatal sepsis cases suspected to be caused by HPeV4 infection. The patients were hospitalized in October, 2012. No other causative agents were detected.

Evidence of Ljungan virus specific antibodies in humans and rodents, Finland.

Ljungan virus (LV, genus Parechovirus, family Picornaviridae) is considered currently to be a rodent-borne virus. Despite suggested human disease associations, its zoonotic potential remains unclear. To date, LV antibody prevalence in both humans and rodents has not been studied. In this study, two different LV immunofluorescence assays (LV IFAs) were developed with LV genotypes 1 (LV strain 87-012G) and 2 (LV strain 145SLG), and cross-neutralization and -reaction studies were carried out with LV strain 145SLG. Finally, a panel of 37 Finnish sera was screened for anti-LV antibodies using two different LV IFAs (LV 145SLG and LV 87-012G) and a neutralization (NT) assay (LV 145SLG), and 50 samples from Myodes glareolus by LV IFA (LV 145SLG). The LV seroprevalence study showed 38% and 18% positivity in humans and M. glareolus, respectively. LV IFAs and NT assays were compared, and the results were in good agreement. The data are the first evidence of humans and rodents coming into contact with LV in Finland. Additional studies are required in order to acquire a better understanding of the prevalence, epidemiological patterns and possible disease association of LV infections.

Molecular evolution and epidemiology of echovirus 6 in Finland.

Echovirus 6 (E-6) (family Picornaviridae, genus Enterovirus) is one of the most commonly detected enteroviruses worldwide. The aim of this study was to determine molecular evolutionary and epidemiologic patterns of E-6. A complete genome of one E-6 strain and the partial VP1 coding regions of 169 strains were sequenced and analyzed along with sequences retrieved from the GenBank. The complete genome sequence analysis suggested complex recombination history for the Finnish E-6 strain. In VP1 region, the phylogenetic analysis suggested three major clusters that were further divided to several subclusters. The evolution of VP1 coding region was dominated by negative selection suggesting that the phylogeny of E-6 VP1 gene is predominantly a result of synonymous substitutions (i.e. neutral genetic drift). The partial VP1 sequence analysis suggested wide geographical distribution for some E-6 lineages. In Finland, multiple different E-6 lineages have circulated at the same time.

Obatoclax, saliphenylhalamide, and gemcitabine inhibit influenza a virus infection.

Influenza A viruses (IAVs) infect humans and cause significant morbidity and mortality. Different treatment options have been developed; however, these were insufficient during recent IAV outbreaks. Here, we conducted a targeted chemical screen in human nonmalignant cells to validate known and search for novel host-directed antivirals. The screen validated saliphenylhalamide (SaliPhe) and identified two novel anti-IAV agents, obatoclax and gemcitabine. Further experiments demonstrated that Mcl-1 (target of obatoclax) provides a novel host target for IAV treatment. Moreover, we showed that obatoclax and SaliPhe inhibited IAV uptake and gemcitabine suppressed viral RNA transcription and replication. These compounds possess broad spectrum antiviral activity, although their antiviral efficacies were virus-, cell type-, and species-specific. Altogether, our results suggest that phase II obatoclax, investigational SaliPhe, and FDA/EMEA-approved gemcitabine represent potent antiviral agents.

Validation and diagnostic application of NS and HA gene-specific real-time reverse transcription-PCR assays for detection of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) viruses in clinical specimens.

Real-time reverse transcription-PCR assays specific for the nonstructural (NS) and hemagglutinin (HA) genes of the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus were developed and evaluated with clinical samples from infected patients. The tests are characterized by high sensitivity and specificity and performed well throughout the first year of the 2009 pandemic.

Genetic diversity of the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) viruses in Finland.

In Finland, the first infections caused by the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus were identified on May 10. During the next three months almost all infections were found from patients who had recently traveled abroad. In September 2009 the pandemic virus started to spread in the general population, leading to localized outbreaks and peak epidemic activity was reached during weeks 43-48.

Imported human rabies, the Philippines and Finland, 2007.


Rabies is a mammalian zoonosis caused by a virus belonging to the family of rhabdoviruses. In Finland, the risk of rabies is associated with imported animals and traveling. We describe the second case of human rabies diagnosed in Finland. Strong hydrophobia was present in the initial phase of the disease. The patient had encephalomyelitis, and he died 11 days after the onset of symptoms. Diagnosis was confirmed by RT-PCR using Saliva. Rabies infection leads invariably to death, but can. be prevented after the exposure with vaccine and immunoglobulin therapy.

Viral zoonoses in Europe.

A number of new virus infections have emerged or re-emerged during the past 15 years. Some viruses are spreading to new areas along with climate and environmental changes. The majority of these infections are transmitted from animals to humans, and thus called zoonoses. Zoonotic viruses are, as compared to human-only viruses, much more difficult to eradicate. Infections by several of these viruses may lead to high mortality and also attract attention because they are potential bio-weapons. This review will focus on zoonotic virus infections occurring in Europe.