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  • A Molecular-Level Account of the Antigenic Hantaviral Surface.

    16 October 2018

    Hantaviruses, a geographically diverse group of zoonotic pathogens, initiate cell infection through the concerted action of Gn and Gc viral surface glycoproteins. Here, we describe the high-resolution crystal structure of the antigenic ectodomain of Gn from Puumala hantavirus (PUUV), a causative agent of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Fitting of PUUV Gn into an electron cryomicroscopy reconstruction of intact Gn-Gc spike complexes from the closely related but non-pathogenic Tula hantavirus localized Gn tetramers to the membrane-distal surface of the virion. The accuracy of the fitting was corroborated by epitope mapping and genetic analysis of available PUUV sequences. Interestingly, Gn exhibits greater non-synonymous sequence diversity than the less accessible Gc, supporting a role of the host humoral immune response in exerting selective pressure on the virus surface. The fold of PUUV Gn is likely to be widely conserved across hantaviruses.

  • Evaluation of Viremia Frequencies of a Novel Human Pegivirus by Using Bioinformatic Screening and PCR.

    16 October 2018

    Next-generation sequencing has critical applications in virus discovery, diagnostics, and environmental surveillance. We used metagenomic sequence libraries for retrospective screening of plasma samples for the recently discovered human hepegivirus 1 (HHpgV-1). From a cohort of 150 hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive case-patients, we identified 2 persons with HHpgV-1 viremia and a high frequency of human pegivirus (HPgV) viremia (14%). Detection of HHpgV-1 and HPgV was concordant with parallel PCR-based screening using conserved primers matching groups 1 (HPgV) and 2 (HHPgV-1) nonstructural 3 region sequences. PCR identified 1 HHPgV-1-positive person with viremia from a group of 195 persons with hemophilia who had been exposed to nonvirally inactivated factor VII/IX; 18 (9%) were HPgV-positive. Relative to HCV and HPgV, active infections with HHpgV-1 were infrequently detected in blood, even in groups that had substantial parenteral exposure. Our findings are consistent with lower transmissibility or higher rates of virus clearance for HHpgV-1 than for other bloodborne human flaviviruses.

  • Venue-Based Networks May Underpin HCV Transmissions amongst HIV-Infected Gay and Bisexual Men.

    16 October 2018

    This study aimed to investigate the potential influence of venue-based networks on HCV transmission in HIV-positive gay and bisexual men (GBM).This was a prospectively recruited cohort of HIV-infected GBM with recently-acquired HCV infection resident in Melbourne and Sydney. Clinical and demographic data were collected together with blood samples for HCV sequencing. Phylogenies were inferred and clusters of individuals infected with HCV with genetic sequence homology were identified. Venues used for sourcing sexual partners were identified; sourcing partners from the same venue was considered a potential social link. Using the Jaccard similarity coefficient, associations were identified between the network of sites where men sourced sex partners and transmission relationships as defined by phylogenetic clustering.Forty individuals were recruited, of whom 62.5% were considered to have sexually- and 37.5% IDU-acquired HCV. Venue use was consistent with men being members of a more sexually adventurous gay community subculture. Six phylogenetically-determined pairs or clusters were identified, comprising fifteen (15/28, 53.6%) individuals. Participants belonging to phylogenetic clusters were observed within the same networks. There was a significant correlation between the network and phylogenetic clustering when both cities were considered simultaneously (p = 0.005), raising the possibility that social connections may be important for HCV transmissions.Venue-based network elicitation is a promising approach for elucidating HCV transmissions amongst HIV-infected GBM. Public health approaches targeting individuals and venues prominent within networks may reduce onward HCV transmission.

  • Evolution and Transmission of Respiratory Syncytial Group A (RSV-A) Viruses in Guangdong, China 2008-2015.

    16 October 2018

    Respiratory syncytial viruses (RSVs) including subgroups A (RSV-A) and B (RSV-B) are an important cause of acute respiratory tract infections worldwide. RSV-A include major epidemic strains. Fundamental questions concerning the evolution, persistence and transmission of RSV-A are critical for disease control and prevention, yet remain unanswered. In this study, we generated 64 complete G gene sequences of RSV-A strains collected between 2008 and 2015 in Guangdong, China. Phylogenetic analysis was undertaken by incorporating 572 publicly available RSV-A sequences. Current data indicate that genotypes GA1, GA4, and GA5 are endemic with limited epidemic activity. In contrast, the GA2 genotype which likely originated in 1980 has spread rapidly and caused epidemics worldwide. By analyzing GA2 genotype sequences across epidemic seasons within Guangdong, we find that RSV-A epidemics in Guangdong are caused by a combination of virus importation and local persistence, although the magnitude of the latter is likely overestimated due to infrequent sampling in other regions. Our results provide new insights into RSV-A evolution and transmission at global and local scales and highlights the rapid and wide spread of genotype GA2 compared to other genotypes. In order to control RSV transmission and outbreak, both local persistence and external introduction should be taken into account when designing optimal strategies.

  • European surveillance network for influenza in pigs: surveillance programs, diagnostic tools and Swine influenza virus subtypes identified in 14 European countries from 2010 to 2013.

    16 October 2018

    Swine influenza causes concern for global veterinary and public health officials. In continuing two previous networks that initiated the surveillance of swine influenza viruses (SIVs) circulating in European pigs between 2001 and 2008, a third European Surveillance Network for Influenza in Pigs (ESNIP3, 2010-2013) aimed to expand widely the knowledge of the epidemiology of European SIVs. ESNIP3 stimulated programs of harmonized SIV surveillance in European countries and supported the coordination of appropriate diagnostic tools and subtyping methods. Thus, an extensive virological monitoring, mainly conducted through passive surveillance programs, resulted in the examination of more than 9 000 herds in 17 countries. Influenza A viruses were detected in 31% of herds examined from which 1887 viruses were preliminary characterized. The dominating subtypes were the three European enzootic SIVs: avian-like swine H1N1 (53.6%), human-like reassortant swine H1N2 (13%) and human-like reassortant swine H3N2 (9.1%), as well as pandemic A/H1N1 2009 (H1N1pdm) virus (10.3%). Viruses from these four lineages co-circulated in several countries but with very different relative levels of incidence. For instance, the H3N2 subtype was not detected at all in some geographic areas whereas it was still prevalent in other parts of Europe. Interestingly, H3N2-free areas were those that exhibited highest frequencies of circulating H1N2 viruses. H1N1pdm viruses were isolated at an increasing incidence in some countries from 2010 to 2013, indicating that this subtype has become established in the European pig population. Finally, 13.9% of the viruses represented reassortants between these four lineages, especially between previous enzootic SIVs and H1N1pdm. These novel viruses were detected at the same time in several countries, with increasing prevalence. Some of them might become established in pig herds, causing implications for zoonotic infections.

  • Infection frequency of hepatitis C virus and IL28B haplotypes in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Kiribati.

    16 October 2018

    It has been estimated that there are more than 60 million Hepatitis C virus (HCV) carriers in the World Health Organisation's Western Pacific region (WHO-WPR), where liver cancer is among the top three causes of cancer death. WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report the prevalence of HCV in the South Pacific islands (countries within the WHO-WPR) to be high (5-10% and >2% respectively). However, since HCV is not tested for in many of these countries, there is sparse data available to support this assertion. We screened ∼2000 apparently healthy individuals from Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Kiribati and found a sero-prevalence of 2.0%, 0.1% and 0%, respectively. All sero-positive samples tested negative for HCV RNA. Curious as to why all the sero-positive individuals were negative for HCV-RNA, we also screened them for the HCV protective IL28B SNP markers rs12979860 and rs8099917. All antibody-positive participants bar one had HCV protective haplotypes. Our results suggest that HCV is present in these Pacific island countries, albeit at a prevalence lower than previous estimates. As none of our participants had undergone antiviral treatment, and therefore must have cleared infection naturally, we hypothesise that genotypes 1 and/or 4 are circulating in South Pacific Island people and that these peoples are genetically predisposed to be more likely to spontaneous resolve HCV infection than to become chronic carriers.