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Olli Vapalahti - Top 30 Publications

Evolution and postglacial colonization of Seewis hantavirus with Sorex araneus in Finland.

Hantaviruses have co-existed with their hosts for millions of years. Seewis virus (SWSV), a soricomorph-borne hantavirus, is widespread in Eurasia, ranging from Central Siberia to Western Europe. To gain insight into the phylogeography and evolutionary history of SWSV in Finland, lung tissue samples of 225 common shrews (Sorex araneus) trapped from different parts of Finland were screened for the presence of SWSV RNA. Forty-two of the samples were positive. Partial small (S), medium (M) and large (L) segments of the virus were sequenced, and analyzed together with all SWSV sequences available in Genbank. The phylogenetic analysis of the partial S-segment sequences suggested that all Finnish SWSV strains shared their most recent common ancestor with the Eastern European strains, while the L-segment suggested multiple introductions. The difference between the L- and S-segment phylogenies implied that reassortment events play a role in the evolution of SWSV. Of the Finnish strains, variants from Eastern Finland occupied the root position in the phylogeny, and had the highest genetic diversity, supporting the hypothesis that SWSV reached Finland first form the east. During the spread in Finland, the virus has formed three separate lineages, identified here by correlation analysis of genetic versus geographic distance combined with median-joining network analysis. These results support the hypothesis that Finnish SWSV recolonized Finland with its host, the common shrew, from east after the last ice age 12,000-8000years ago, and then subsequently spread along emerging land bridges towards west or north with the migration and population expansion of its host.

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.

Antiviral Properties of Chemical Inhibitors of Cellular Anti-Apoptotic Bcl-2 Proteins.

Viral diseases remain serious threats to public health because of the shortage of effective means of control. To combat the surge of viral diseases, new treatments are urgently needed. Here we show that small-molecules, which inhibit cellular anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins (Bcl-2i), induced the premature death of cells infected with different RNA or DNA viruses, whereas, at the same concentrations, no toxicity was observed in mock-infected cells. Moreover, these compounds limited viral replication and spread. Surprisingly, Bcl-2i also induced the premature apoptosis of cells transfected with viral RNA or plasmid DNA but not of mock-transfected cells. These results suggest that Bcl-2i sensitizes cells containing foreign RNA or DNA to apoptosis. A comparison of the toxicity, antiviral activity, and side effects of six Bcl-2i allowed us to select A-1155463 as an antiviral lead candidate. Thus, our results pave the way for the further development of Bcl-2i for the prevention and treatment of viral diseases.

Compensating for cross-reactions using avidity and computation in a suspension multiplex immunoassay for serotyping of Zika versus other flavivirus infections.

The recent spread of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas and Asia necessitates an increased preparedness for improved maternal and perinatal health and blood safety. However, serological cross-reactions, especially to Dengue virus (DENV), complicate ZIKV antibody serodiagnosis. A novel "pan-Flavi" suspension multiplex immunoassay (PFSMIA) using 25 antigens, whole virus (WV), non-structural protein 1 (NS1), and envelope (E) proteins, from 7 zoonotic flaviviruses for specific detection of ZIKV and DENV IgM and IgG was developed. Patterns of antibody cross-reactivity, avidity, and kinetics were established in 104 sera from returning travelers with known ZIKV and DENV infections. PFSMIA gave IgM- and IgG-sensitivities for both viruses of 96-100%, compared to an immunofluorescence assay. Main IgM cross-reactions were to NS1, for IgG to the E and WV antigens. Infecting virus yielded reactivity to several antigens of the homologous virus, while cross-reactions tended to occur only to a single antigen from heterologous virus(es). A specificity-enhancing computer procedure took into account antibody isotype, number of antibody-reactive antigens per virus, avidity, average degree of cross-reactivity to heterologous flavivirus antigens, and reactivity changes in serial sera. It classified all 50 cases correctly. Applied to sera from 200 pregnant women and 173 blood donors from Sweden, one blood donor was found ZIKV NS1 IgM positive, and another as ZIKV NS1 IgG positive. These samples did not react with other ZIKV antigens and were thereby judged as false-positives. PFSMIA provided sensitive and specific ZIKV and DENV serology, warranting high-throughput serological surveillance and a minimized need for laborious and expensive virus neutralization assays.

Serogrouping and seroepidemiology of North European hantaviruses using a novel broadly targeted synthetic nucleoprotein antigen array.

Introduction: Hantaviruses are globally distributed zoonotic pathogens. Great diversity and high antigenic cross-reactivity makes diagnosis by traditional methods cumbersome. Materials and methods: 'Megapeptides', 119-120-mers from the amino terminus of the nucleoprotein of 16 hantaviruses, representing the four major branches of the hantavirus phylogenetic tree, were utilized in a novel IgG-based hantavirus suspension multiplex immunoassay (HSMIA) for detection of past hantavirus infections in 155 North European human samples. We compared HSMIA with established EIAs and focus reduction neutralization test (FRNT). Results and discussion: The Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) component in the HSMIA gave concordant results with a PUUV IgG EIA in 142 sera from Northern Sweden (of which 31 were EIA positive, 7 borderline and 104 EIA negative, sensitivity 30/31 = 97%, specificity 104/ 104 = 100%, 134/135 = 99% concordance), with another immunoassay in 40 PUUV IgG positive sera from Finland (36/40 = 90% sensitivity), and was concordant in 8 of 11 cases with PUUV and DOBV neutralization titers, respectively. Two major IgG reactivity patterns were found: (i) a PUUV-specific pattern covering phylogroup IV and its serogroups B and C; and (ii) a Dobrava virus (DOBV)-specific pattern, covering the serogroup A portion of phylogroup III. In addition, we found several minor patterns with reactivity to only one or two megapeptides indicating additional hantaviruses infecting humans in the Swedish and Finnish populations. Conclusion: The broadly reactive and rational HSMIA yielded results highly correlated with the established PUUV EIAs and the NT results. It is a sensitive and specific assay, which will be suited for efficient serosurveillance of hantaviruses in humans. Its use in animals should be further investigated.

Questionnaire survey of detrimental fur animal epidemic necrotic pyoderma in Finland.

In 2007, a previously unrecorded disease, fur animal epidemic necrotic pyoderma (FENP), was detected in farmed mink (Neovision vision), foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and Finnraccoons (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in Finland. Symptoms included severe pyoderma with increased mortality, causing both animal welfare problems and economic losses. In 2011, an epidemiologic questionnaire was mailed to all members of the Finnish Fur Breeders' Association to assess the occurrence of FENP from 2009 through the first 6 months of 2011. The aim was to describe the geographical distribution and detailed clinical signs of FENP, as well as sources of infection and potential risk factors for the disease.

Differences in the growth properties of Zika virus foetal brain isolate and related epidemic strains in vitro.

Zika virus (ZIKV) has recently emerged into new areas in the Americas and Asia, causing an epidemic characterized by severe congenital infections. While ZIKV infection is usually asymptomatic or causes mild symptoms, it has now caused a high rate of foetal brain and ocular abnormalities. The underlying reasons for the varying severity of disease outcomes is poorly understood. In this study, we compared the infectivity and replication of three disease-associated Zika viruses of Asian lineage, as well as the prototypic ZIKV strain from Africa. The recent foetal brain isolate FB-GWUH-2016 demonstrated enhanced infectivity and replication over the serum-origin isolates from French Polynesia and Martinique, suggesting differences in the pathogenic properties.


Influenza A viruses (IAVs) of the subtypes H13 and H16 are primarily found in gulls ( Larus spp., order Charadriiformes). Although the gull-adapted subtypes replicate efficiently during infection, gulls usually remain apparently healthy during infection. Avian influenza virus isolates are generally separated into two distinct populations, North American and Eurasian, because of the limited gene flow between the continents. Reassortment between these lineages does occur occasionally; however, direct intercontinental transmission of all eight gene segments is rare. Extensive research has been done to understand the ecology of IAV subtypes that naturally circulate in ducks (order Anseriformes), but the ecology of H13 and H16 IAVs in gulls remains far less studied. In Finland, gulls were screened for IAVs for passive (dead and diseased gulls) and active (clinically healthy gulls) surveillance purposes during the years 2005-10. During that period, 11 H13, two H16 viruses, and one H3N8 IAV were detected. We sequenced partial and full-length hemagglutinin genes of these gull-origin IAVs for phylogenetic assessments. All but one of the H13 genes clustered together with northern European and northeastern Asian viruses, whereas one virus clustered with North American viruses. Interestingly, a high rate (10/14) of these low-pathogenic IAVs was detected in dead or diseased gulls. The atypical clinical status of the IAV-positive gulls and previous observations of circovirus-like inclusion bodies in diseased gulls during autopsies, led us to screen for concurrent circovirus infections in our samples. The DNA of circovirus, an immunosuppressive pathogen of both birds and mammals, was detected in 54% (7/13) of the tested IAV-positive gulls, whereas only 25% (14/56) of our panel of IAV-negative gulls tested positive by circovirus PCR.

Development of a high-throughput colorimetric Zika virus infection assay.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging pathogen that causes congenital infections which may result in birth defects, such as microcephaly. Currently, no approved treatment or vaccination is available. ZIKV can be readily detected in cell culture where virally infected cells are normally stained by specific antibodies. As ZIKV regularly causes a cytopathic effect, we were wondering whether this viral property can be used to quantitatively determine viral infectivity. We here describe the use of an 3-[4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl]-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide-(MTT)-based cell viability assay that allows to determine ZIKV-induced cell death. We show that this colorimetric assay quantifies ZIKV infection over a broad range of viral dilutions in both monkey and human cells. It allows to determine inhibitory activities of antivirals that block ZIKV or to define the neutralizing antibody titers of ZIKV antisera. This MTT-based ZIKV detection assay can be evaluated by naked eye or computational tools, has a broad linear range, does not require large equipment or costly reagents, and thus represents a promising alternative to antibody-based assays, in particular in resource-poor settings. We propose to use this simple, fast, and cheap method for quantification of ZIKV neutralizing antibodies and testing of antiviral compounds.

Recent Zika Virus Isolates Induce Premature Differentiation of Neural Progenitors in Human Brain Organoids.

The recent Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic is associated with microcephaly in newborns. Although the connection between ZIKV and neurodevelopmental defects is widely recognized, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we show that two recently isolated strains of ZIKV, an American strain from an infected fetal brain (FB-GWUH-2016) and a closely-related Asian strain (H/PF/2013), productively infect human iPSC-derived brain organoids. Both of these strains readily target to and replicate in proliferating ventricular zone (VZ) apical progenitors. The main phenotypic effect was premature differentiation of neural progenitors associated with centrosome perturbation, even during early stages of infection, leading to progenitor depletion, disruption of the VZ, impaired neurogenesis, and cortical thinning. The infection pattern and cellular outcome differ from those seen with the extensively passaged ZIKV strain MR766. The structural changes we see after infection with these more recently isolated viral strains closely resemble those seen in ZIKV-associated microcephaly.

Co-infecting Reptarenaviruses Can Be Vertically Transmitted in Boa Constrictor.

Boid inclusion body disease (BIBD) is an often fatal disease affecting mainly constrictor snakes. BIBD has been associated with infection, and more recently with coinfection, by various reptarenavirus species (family Arenaviridae). Thus far BIBD has only been reported in captive snakes, and neither the incubation period nor the route of transmission are known. Herein we provide strong evidence that co-infecting reptarenavirus species can be vertically transmitted in Boa constrictor. In total we examined five B. constrictor clutches with offspring ranging in age from embryos over perinatal abortions to juveniles. The mother and/or father of each clutch were initially diagnosed with BIBD and/or reptarenavirus infection by detection of the pathognomonic inclusion bodies (IB) and/or reptarenaviral RNA. By applying next-generation sequencing and de novo sequence assembly we determined the "reptarenavirome" of each clutch, yielding several nearly complete L and S segments of multiple reptarenaviruses. We further confirmed vertical transmission of the co-infecting reptarenaviruses by species-specific RT-PCR from samples of parental animals and offspring. Curiously, not all offspring obtained the full parental "reptarenavirome". We extended our findings by an in vitro approach; cell cultures derived from embryonal samples rapidly developed IB and promoted replication of some or all parental viruses. In the tissues of embryos and perinatal abortions, viral antigen was sometimes detected, but IB were consistently seen only in the juvenile snakes from the age of 2 mo onwards. In addition to demonstrating vertical transmission of multiple species, our results also indicate that reptarenavirus infection induces BIBD over time in the offspring.

Experimental transmission of Zika virus by mosquitoes from central Europe.

Mosquitoes collected in Germany in 2016, including Culex pipiens pipiens biotype pipiens, Culex torrentium and Aedes albopictus, as well as Culex pipiens pipiens biotype molestus (in colony since 2011) were experimentally infected with Zika virus (ZIKV) at 18 °C or 27 °C. None of the Culex taxa showed vector competence for ZIKV. In contrast, Aedes albopictus were susceptible for ZIKV but only at 27 °C, with transmission rates similar to an Aedes aegypti laboratory colony tested in parallel.

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.

Obatoclax, saliphenylhalamide and gemcitabine inhibit Zika virus infection in vitro and differentially affect cellular signaling, transcription and metabolism.

An epidemic of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection associated with congenital abnormalities such as microcephaly, is ongoing in the Americas and the Pacific. Currently there are no approved therapies to treat this emerging viral disease. Here, we tested three cell-directed broad-spectrum antiviral compounds against ZIKV replication using human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and a low-passage ZIKV strain isolated from fetal brain. We found that obatoclax, SaliPhe, and gemcitabine inhibited ZIKV infections at noncytotoxic concentrations. Moreover, all three compounds prevented production of viral RNA and proteins as well as activation of cellular caspase 8, 3 and 7. However, these compounds differentially affected ZIKV-mediated transcription, translation and posttranslational modifications of cellular factors as well as metabolic pathways indicating that these agents possess different mechanisms of action. Interestingly, combination of obatoclax and SaliPhe at nanomolar concentrations had a synergistic effect against ZIKV infection. Thus, our results provided the foundation for development of broad-spectrum cell-directed antivirals or their combinations for treatment of ZIKV and other emerging viral diseases.

Production, purification and immunogenicity of recombinant Ebola virus proteins - A comparison of Freund's adjuvant and adjuvant system 03.

There is an urgent need for Ebola virus (EBOV) proteins, EBOV-specific antibodies and recombinant antigens to be used in diagnostics and as potential vaccine candidates. Our objective was to produce and purify recombinant proteins for immunological assays and for the production of polyclonal EBOV specific antibodies. In addition, a limited comparison of the adjuvant effects of Freund's complete adjuvant (FCA) and adjuvant system 03 (AS03) was carried out. Recombinant EBOV GST-VP24, -VP30, -VP35, -VP40 and -NP were produced in E. coli and purified with affinity chromatography followed by preparative gel electrophoresis. Recombinant EBOV GP-His was produced in Sf9 insect cells and purified by preparative gel electrophoresis. To compare the adjuvant effect of FCA and AS03, 12 rabbits were immunized four times with one of the six recombinant EBOV proteins using FCA or AS03. In addition, three guinea pigs were immunized with EBOV VP24 using FCA. With the exception of sera from two rabbits immunized with GST-VP24, the antisera against all other EBOV proteins showed very high and specific antibody responses after three to four immunizations. The adjuvant effect of AS03 was comparable to that of FCA. The produced antibodies recognized the corresponding EBOV proteins in wild type EBOV-infected cells.

Experimental Infection of Mink Enforces the Role of Arcanobacterium phocae as Causative Agent of Fur Animal Epidemic Necrotic Pyoderma (FENP).

Fur Animal Epidemic Necrotic Pyoderma (FENP) is a severe, often lethal infectious disease affecting all three fur animal species: mink (Neovision vision), foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and finnraccoons (Nyctereutes procyonoides). Previous studies showed an association between Arcanobacterium phocae and FENP. An experimental infection was conducted to confirm the ability of A. phocae to infect mink either alone or concurrently with a novel Streptococcus sp. found together with A. phocae in many cases of FENP. Different inoculation methods were tested to study possible routes of transmission. Typical signs, and gross- and histopathological findings for FENP were detected when naïve mink were infected with the tissue extract of mink with FENP, using a subcutaneous/ intradermal infection route. Edema, hemorrhage, necrosis and pus formation were detected in the infection site. A pure culture preparation of A. phocae alone or concurrently with the novel Streptococcus sp. caused severe acute signs of lethargy, apathy and anorexia and even mortality. The histopathological findings were similar to those found in naturally occurring cases of FENP. In contrast, the perorally infected mink presented no clinical signs nor any gross- or histopathological lesions. This study showed that A. phocae is able to cause FENP. The study also indicated that predisposing factors such as the environment, the general condition of the animals, temperature and skin trauma contribute to the development of the disease.

Food limitation constrains host immune responses to nematode infections.

Trade-offs in the allocation of finite-energy resources among immunological defences and other physiological processes are believed to influence infection risk and disease severity in food-limited wildlife populations. However, this prediction has received little experimental investigation. Here we test the hypothesis that food limitation impairs the ability of wild field voles (Microtus agrestis) to mount an immune response against parasite infections. We conducted a replicated experiment on vole populations maintained in large outdoor enclosures during boreal winter, using food supplementation and anthelmintic treatment of intestinal nematodes. Innate immune responses against intestinal parasite infections were compared between food-supplemented and non-supplemented voles. Voles with high food availability mounted stronger immune responses against intestinal nematode infections than food-limited voles. No food effects were seen in immune responses to intracellular coccidian parasites, possibly owing to their ability to avoid activation of innate immune pathways. Our findings demonstrate that food availability constrains vole immune responses against nematode infections, and support the concept that spatio-temporal heterogeneity in food availability creates variation in infectious disease susceptibility.

Generation of Anti-Boa Immunoglobulin Antibodies for Serodiagnostic Applications, and Their Use to Detect Anti-Reptarenavirus Antibodies in Boa Constrictor.

Immunoglobulins (Igs), the key effectors of the adaptive immune system, mediate the specific recognition of foreign structures, i.e. antigens. In mammals, IgM production commonly precedes the production of IgG in the response to an infection. The reptilian counterpart of IgG is IgY, but the exact kinetics of the reptilian immune response are less well known. Boid inclusion body disease (BIBD), an often fatal disease of captive boas and pythons has been linked to reptarenavirus infection, and BIBD is believed to be immunosuppressive. However, so far, the study of the serological response towards reptarenaviruses in BIBD has been hampered by the lack of reagents. Thus we set up a purification protocol for boa constrictor IgY and IgM, which should also be applicable for other snake species. We used centrifugal filter units, poly ethylene glycol precipitation and gel permeation chromatography to purify and separate the IgM and IgY fractions from boa constrictor serum, which we further used to immunise rabbits. We affinity purified IgM and IgY specific reagents from the produced antiserum, and labelled the reagents with horseradish peroxidase. Finally, using the sera of snakes with known exposure to reptarenaviruses we demonstrated that the newly generated reagents can be utilised for serodiagnostic purposes, such as immunoblotting and immunofluorescent staining. To our knowledge, this is the first report to show reptarenavirus-specific antibodies in boa constrictors.

Mapping of human B-cell epitopes of Sindbis virus.

Mosquito-transmitted Sindbis virus (SINV) causes fever, skin lesions and musculoskeletal symptoms if transmitted to man. SINV is the prototype virus of genus Alphavirus, which includes other arthritogenic viruses such as chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Ross River virus (RRV) that cause large epidemics with a considerable public health burden. Until now the human B-cell epitopes have been studied for CHIKV and RRV, but not for SINV. To identify the B-cell epitopes in SINV-infection, we synthetised a library of linear 18-mer peptides covering the structural polyprotein of SINV, and probed it with SINV IgG-positive and IgG-negative serum pools. By comparing the binding profiles of the pools, we identified 15 peptides that were strongly reactive only with the SINV IgG-positive pools. We then utilized alanine scanning and individual (n=22) patient sera to further narrow the number of common B-cell epitopes to six. These epitopes locate to the capsid, E2, E1 and to a region in PE2 (uncleaved E3-E2), which may only be present in immature virions. By sequence comparison, we observed that one of the capsid protein epitopes shares six identical amino acids with macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) receptor, which is linked to inflammatory diseases and to molecular pathology of alphaviral arthritides. Our results add to the current understanding on SINV disease and raise questions of a potential role of uncleaved PE2 and the MIF receptor (CD74) mimotope in human SINV infection.

Infection with Possible Novel Parapoxvirus in Horse, Finland, 2013.

A horse in Finland exhibited generalized granulomatous inflammation and severe proliferative dermatitis. After euthanization, we detected poxvirus DNA from a skin lesion sample. The virus sequence grouped with parapoxviruses, closely resembling a novel poxvirus detected in humans in the United States after horse contact. Our findings indicate horses may be a reservoir for zoonotic parapoxvirus.

Prevalence estimation of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) antibodies in dogs from Finland using novel dog anti-TBEV IgG MAb-capture and IgG immunofluorescence assays based on recombinant TBEV subviral particles.

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is one of the most dangerous human neurological infections occurring in Europe and Northern parts of Asia with thousands of cases and millions vaccinated against it. The risk of TBE might be assessed through analyses of the samples taken from wildlife or from animals which are in close contact with humans. Dogs have been shown to be a good sentinel species for these studies. Serological assays for diagnosis of TBE in dogs are mainly based on purified and inactivated TBEV antigens. Here we describe novel dog anti-TBEV IgG monoclonal antibody (MAb)-capture assay which is based on TBEV prME subviral particles expressed in mammalian cells from Semliki Forest virus (SFV) replicon as well as IgG immunofluorescence assay (IFA) which is based on Vero E6 cells transfected with the same SFV replicon. We further demonstrate their use in a small-scale TBEV seroprevalence study of dogs representing different regions of Finland. Altogether, 148 dog serum samples were tested by novel assays and results were compared to those obtained with a commercial IgG enzyme immunoassay (EIA), hemagglutination inhibition test and IgG IFA with TBEV infected cells. Compared to reference tests, the sensitivities of the developed assays were 90-100% and the specificities of the two assays were 100%. Analysis of the dog serum samples showed a seroprevalence of 40% on Åland Islands and 6% on Southwestern archipelago of Finland. In conclusion, a specific and sensitive EIA and IFA for the detection of IgG antibodies in canine sera were developed. Based on these assays the seroprevalence of IgG antibodies in dogs from different regions of Finland was assessed and was shown to parallel the known human disease burden as the Southwestern archipelago and Åland Islands in particular had considerable dog TBEV antibody prevalence and represent areas with high risk of TBE for humans.

Acute Human Inkoo and Chatanga Virus Infections, Finland.

Inkoo virus (INKV) and Chatanga virus (CHATV), which are circulating in Finland, are mosquitoborne California serogroup orthobunyaviruses that have a high seroprevalence among humans. Worldwide, INKV infection has been poorly described, and CHATV infection has been unknown. Using serum samples collected in Finland from 7,961 patients suspected of having viral neurologic disease or Puumala virus infection during the summers of 2001-2013, we analyzed the samples to detect California serogroup infections. IgM seropositivity revealed 17 acute infections, and cross-neutralization tests confirmed presence of INKV or CHATV infections. All children (<16 years of age) with INKV infection were hospitalized; adults were outpatients with mild disease, except for 1 who was hospitalized with CHATV infection. Symptoms included fever, influenza-like illness, nausea or vomiting, disorientation, nuchal rigidity, headache, drowsiness, and seizures. Although many INKV and CHATV infections appear to be subclinical, these viruses can cause more severe disease, especially in children.

Erratum: Temporal dynamics of Puumala hantavirus infection in cyclic populations of bank voles.

Zika Virus Infection with Prolonged Maternal Viremia and Fetal Brain Abnormalities.

The current outbreak of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has been associated with an apparent increased risk of congenital microcephaly. We describe a case of a pregnant woman and her fetus infected with ZIKV during the 11th gestational week. The fetal head circumference decreased from the 47th percentile to the 24th percentile between 16 and 20 weeks of gestation. ZIKV RNA was identified in maternal serum at 16 and 21 weeks of gestation. At 19 and 20 weeks of gestation, substantial brain abnormalities were detected on ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) without the presence of microcephaly or intracranial calcifications. On postmortem analysis of the fetal brain, diffuse cerebral cortical thinning, high ZIKV RNA loads, and viral particles were detected, and ZIKV was subsequently isolated.

Sindbis virus as a human pathogen-epidemiology, clinical picture and pathogenesis.

Sindbis virus (SINV; family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus) is an enveloped RNA virus widely distributed in Eurasia, Africa, Oceania and Australia. SINV is transmitted among its natural bird hosts via mosquitoes. Human disease caused by SINV infection has been reported mainly in South Africa and in Northern Europe. Vector mosquito abundance affects the annual incidence of SINV infections with occasional outbreaks of up to 1500 patients. Symptoms include fever, malaise, rash and musculoskeletal pain. In a significant portion of patients the debilitating musculoskeletal symptoms persist for years. Chronic disease after SINV infection shares many features with autoimmune diseases. Currently there is no specific treatment available. Recently SINV infections have been detected outside the previously known distribution range. In this article we will summarize the current knowledge on epidemiology, clinical disease and pathogenesis of SINV infection in man. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Moose, Alces alces (Artiodactyla: Cervidae) in Finland are heavily infested with deer keds, Lipoptena cervi (Diptera: Hippoboschidae). The deer ked, which carries species of the genus Bartonella, has been proposed as a vector for the transmission of bartonellae to animals and humans. Previously, bartonella DNA was found in deer keds as well as in moose blood collected in Finland. We investigated the prevalence and molecular diversity of Bartonella spp. infection from blood samples collected from free-ranging moose. Given that the deer ked is not present in northernmost Finland, we also investigated whether there were geographic differences in the prevalence of bartonella infection in moose. The overall prevalence of bartonella infection was 72.9% (108/148). Geographically, the prevalence was highest in the south (90.6%) and lowest in the north (55.9%). At least two species of bartonellae were identified by multilocus sequence analysis. Based on logistic regression analysis, there was no significant association between bartonella infection and either age or sex; however, moose from outside the deer ked zone were significantly less likely to be infected (P<0.015) than were moose hunted within the deer ked zone.

Seroprevalence and Risk Factors of Inkoo Virus in Northern Sweden.

The mosquito-borne Inkoo virus (INKV) is a member of the California serogroup in the family Bunyaviridae, genus Orthobunyavirus These viruses are associated with fever and encephalitis, although INKV infections are not usually reported and the incidence is largely unknown. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of anti-INKV antibodies and associated risk factors in humans living in northern Sweden. Seroprevalence was investigated using the World Health Organization Monitoring of Trends and Determinants in Cardiovascular Disease study, where a randomly selected population aged between 25 and 74 years (N = 1,607) was invited to participate. The presence of anti-INKV IgG antibodies was determined by immunofluorescence assay. Seropositivity for anti-INKV was significantly higher in men (46.9%) than in women (34.8%; P < 0.001). In women, but not in men, the prevalence increased somewhat with age (P = 0.06). The peak in seropositivity was 45-54 years for men and 55-64 years for women. Living in rural areas was associated with a higher seroprevalence. In conclusion, the prevalence of anti-INKV antibodies was high in northern Sweden and was associated with male sex, older age, and rural living. The age distribution indicates exposure to INKV at a relatively early age. These findings will be important for future epidemiological and clinical investigations of this relatively unknown mosquito-borne virus.

Vaccinia virus-free rescue of fluorescent replication-defective vesicular stomatitis virus and pseudotyping with Puumala virus glycoproteins for use in neutralization tests.

Puumala virus (PUUV) grows slowly in cell culture. To study antigenic properties of PUUV, an amenable method for their expression would be beneficial. To achieve this, a replication-defective recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus, rVSVΔG*EGFP, was rescued using BSRT7/5 and encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosomal entry site (IRES)-enabled rescue plasmids. Using these particles, pseudotypes bearing PUUV Sotkamo strain glycoproteins were produced, with titres in the range 105-108, and were used in pseudotype focus reduction neutralization tests (pFRNTs) with neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and patient sera. The results were compared with those from orthodox focus reduction neutralization tests (oFRNTs) using native PUUV with the same samples and showed a strong positive correlation (rs = 0.82) between the methods. While developing the system we identified three amino acids which were mutated in the Vero E6 cell culture adapted PUUV prototype Sotkamo strain sequence, and changing these residues was critical for expression and neutralizing antibody binding of PUUV glycoproteins.

Temporal dynamics of Puumala hantavirus infection in cyclic populations of bank voles.

Understanding the dynamics of zoonotic pathogens in their reservoir host populations is a prerequisite for predicting and preventing human disease epidemics. The human infection risk of Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) is highest in northern Europe, where populations of the rodent host (bank vole, Myodes glareolus) undergo cyclic fluctuations. We conducted a 7-year capture-mark-recapture study to monitor seasonal and multiannual patterns of the PUUV infection rate in bank vole populations exhibiting a 3-year density cycle. Infected bank voles were most abundant in mid-winter months during years of increasing or peak host density. Prevalence of PUUV infection in bank voles exhibited a regular, seasonal pattern reflecting the annual population turnover and accumulation of infections within each year cohort. In autumn, the PUUV transmission rate tracked increasing host abundance, suggesting a density-dependent transmission. However, prevalence of PUUV infection was similar during the increase and peak years of the density cycle despite a twofold difference in host density. This may result from the high proportion of individuals carrying maternal antibodies constraining transmission during the cycle peak years. Our exceptionally intensive and long-term dataset provides a solid basis on which to develop models to predict the dynamic public health threat posed by PUUV in northern Europe.

The Presence and Seroprevalence of Arthropod-Borne Viruses in Nasiriyah Governorate, Southern Iraq: A Cross-Sectional Study.

The knowledge on the presence and seroprevalence of arboviruses in Iraq is fragmental. To assess the exposure of the population to arbovirus infections in southern Iraq, we conducted a serological screening of the most common arbovirus groups using immunofluorescence, hemagglutination inhibition and neutralization tests. Serum samples of 399 adult volunteers were collected in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Antibodies were detected against West Nile virus (WNV) (11.6%), sandfly-borne Sicilian virus serocomplex (18.2%), sandfly-borne Naples virus serocomplex (7.8%), Sindbis virus (1.5%), chikungunya virus (0.5%), and Tahyna virus (2.0%). The results suggest that WNV and sandfly-borne phlebovirus infections are common in southern Iraq, and these viruses should be considered as potential causative agents in patients with febrile disease and/or neurological manifestations.