ResearchPad - bunyaviruses https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Selected wetland soil properties correlate to Rift Valley fever livestock mortalities reported in 2009-10 in central South Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15754 Outbreaks of Rift Valley fever have devastating impacts on ruminants, humans, as well as on regional and national economies. Although numerous studies on the impact and outbreak of Rift Valley fever exist, relatively little is known about the role of environmental factors, especially soil, on the aestivation of the virus. This study thus selected 22 sites for study in central South Africa, known to be the recurrent epicenter of widespread Rift Valley fever outbreaks in Southern Africa. Soils were described, sampled and analyzed in detail at each site. Of all the soil variables analyzed for, only eight (cation exchange capacity, exchangeable Ca2+, exchangeable K+, exchangeable Mg2+, soluble Ca2+, medium sand, As, and Br) were statistically identified to be potential indicators of sites with reported Rift Valley fever mortalities, as reported for the 2009–2010 Rift Valley fever outbreak. Four soil characteristics (exchangeable K+, exchangeable Mg2+, medium sand, and Br) were subsequently included in a discriminant function that could potentially be used to predict sites that had reported Rift Valley fever-associated mortalities in livestock. This study therefore constitutes an initial attempt to predict sites prone to Rift Valley fever livestock mortality from soil properties and thus serves as a basis for broader research on the interaction between soil, mosquitoes and Rift Valley fever virus. Future research should include other environmental components such as vegetation, climate, and water properties as well as correlating soil properties with floodwater Aedes spp. abundance and Rift Valley fever virus prevalence.

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<![CDATA[Individual-based network model for Rift Valley fever in Kabale District, Uganda]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823c9d5eed0c484638ffb

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a zoonotic disease, that causes significant morbidity and mortality among ungulate livestock and humans in endemic regions. In East Africa, the causative agent of the disease is Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) which is primarily transmitted by multiple mosquito species in Aedes and Mansonia genera during both epizootic and enzootic periods in a complex transmission cycle largely driven by environmental and climatic factors. However, recent RVFV activity in Uganda demonstrated the capability of the virus to spread into new regions through livestock movements, and underscored the need to develop effective mitigation strategies to reduce transmission and prevent spread among cattle populations. We simulated RVFV transmission among cows in 22 different locations of the Kabale District in Uganda using real world livestock data in a network-based model. This model considered livestock as a spatially explicit factor in different locations subjected to specific vector and environmental factors, and was configured to investigate and quantitatively evaluate the relative impacts of mosquito control, livestock movement, and diversity in cattle populations on the spread of the RVF epizootic. We concluded that cattle movement should be restricted for periods of high mosquito abundance to control epizootic spreading among locations during an RVF outbreak. Importantly, simulation results also showed that cattle populations with heterogeneous genetic diversity as crossbreeds were less susceptible to infection compared to homogenous cattle populations.

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<![CDATA[Vector competence of biting midges and mosquitoes for Shuni virus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c75dfd5eed0c4843d037a

Background

Shuni virus (SHUV) is an orthobunyavirus that belongs to the Simbu serogroup. SHUV was isolated from diverse species of domesticated animals and wildlife, and is associated with neurological disease, abortions, and congenital malformations. Recently, SHUV caused outbreaks among ruminants in Israel, representing the first incursions outside the African continent. The isolation of SHUV from a febrile child in Nigeria and seroprevalence among veterinarians in South Africa suggests that the virus may have zoonotic potential as well. The high pathogenicity, extremely broad tropism, potential transmission via both biting midges and mosquitoes, and zoonotic features of SHUV require further investigation. This is important to accurately determine the risk for animal and human health, and to facilitate preparations for potential epidemics. To gain first insight into the potential involvement of biting midges and mosquitoes in SHUV transmission we have investigated the ability of SHUV to infect two species of laboratory-colonised biting midges and two species of mosquitoes.

Methodology/Principal findings

Culicoides nubeculosus, C. sonorensis, Culex pipiens pipiens, and Aedes aegypti were orally exposed to SHUV by providing an infectious blood meal. Biting midges showed high infection rates of approximately 40%-60%, whereas infection rates of mosquitoes were only 0–2%. Moreover, successful dissemination in both species of biting midges and no evidence for transmission by orally exposed mosquitoes was found.

Conclusions/Significance

The results of this study suggest that different species of Culicoides midges are efficient in SHUV transmission, while the involvement of mosquitoes has not been supported.

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<![CDATA[Probing the impact of nairovirus genomic diversity on viral ovarian tumor domain protease (vOTU) structure and deubiquitinase activity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f818d5eed0c484387080

Post-translational modification of host and viral proteins by ubiquitin (Ub) and Ub-like proteins, such as interferon stimulated gene product 15 (ISG15), plays a key role in response to infection. Viruses have been increasingly identified that contain proteases possessing deubiquitinase (DUB) and/or deISGylase functions. This includes viruses in the Nairoviridae family that encode a viral homologue of the ovarian tumor protease (vOTU). vOTU activity was recently demonstrated to be critical for replication of the often-fatal Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, with DUB activity suppressing the type I interferon responses and deISGylase activity broadly removing ISG15 conjugated proteins. There are currently about 40 known nairoviruses classified into fourteen species. Recent genomic characterization has revealed a high degree of diversity, with vOTUs showing less than 25% amino acids identities within the family. Previous investigations have been limited to only a few closely related nairoviruses, leaving it unclear what impact this diversity has on vOTU function. To probe the effects of vOTU diversity on enzyme activity and specificity, we assessed representative vOTUs spanning the Nairoviridae family towards Ub and ISG15 fluorogenic substrates. This revealed great variation in enzymatic activity and specific substrate preferences. A subset of the vOTUs were further assayed against eight biologically relevant di-Ub substrates, uncovering both common trends and distinct preferences of poly-Ub linkages by vOTUs. Four novel X-ray crystal structures were obtained that provide a biochemical rationale for vOTU substrate preferences and elucidate structural features that distinguish the vOTUs, including a motif in the Hughes orthonairovirus species that has not been previously observed in OTU domains. Additionally, structure-informed mutagenesis provided the first direct evidence of a second site involved in di-Ub binding for vOTUs. These results provide new insight into nairovirus evolution and pathogenesis, and further enhances the development of tools for therapeutic purposes.

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<![CDATA[Transcriptome-wide responses of adult melon thrips (Thrips palmi) associated with capsicum chlorosis virus infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c141e64d5eed0c484d26693

Thrips palmi is a widely distributed major agricultural pest in the tropics and subtropics, causing significant losses in cucurbit and solanaceous crops through feeding damage and transmission of tospoviruses. Thrips palmi is a vector of capsicum chlorosis virus (CaCV) in Australia. The present understanding of transmission biology and potential effects of CaCV on T. palmi is limited. To gain insights into molecular responses to CaCV infection, we performed RNA-Seq to identify thrips transcripts that are differentially-abundant during virus infection of adults. De-novo assembly of the transcriptome generated from whole bodies of T. palmi adults generated 166,445 contigs, of which ~24% contained a predicted open reading frame. We identified 1,389 differentially-expressed (DE) transcripts, with comparable numbers up- (708) and down-regulated (681) in virus-exposed thrips compared to non-exposed thrips. Approximately 59% of these DE transcripts had significant matches to NCBI non-redundant proteins (Blastx) and Blast2GO identified provisional functional categories among the up-regulated transcripts in virus-exposed thrips including innate immune response-related genes, salivary gland and/or gut-associated genes and vitellogenin genes. The majority of the immune-related proteins are known to serve functions in lysosome activity and melanisation in insects. Most of the up-regulated oral and extra-oral digestion-associated genes appear to be involved in digestion of proteins, lipids and plant cell wall components which may indirectly enhance the likelihood or frequency of virus transmission or may be involved in the regulation of host defence responses. Most of the down-regulated transcripts fell into the gene ontology functional category of ‘structural constituent of cuticle’. Comparison to DE genes responsive to tomato spotted wilt virus in Frankliniella occidentalis indicates conservation of some thrips molecular responses to infection by different tospoviruses. This study assembled the first transcriptome in the genus Thrips and provides important data to broaden our understanding of networks of molecular interactions between thrips and tospoviruses.

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<![CDATA[Study on causes of fever in primary healthcare center uncovers pathogens of public health concern in Madagascar]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b60074e463d7e39c5526201

Background

The increasing use of malaria diagnostic tests reveals a growing proportion of patients with fever but no malaria. Clinicians and health care workers in low-income countries have few tests to diagnose causes of fever other than malaria although several diseases share common symptoms. We propose here to assess etiologies of fever in Madagascar to ultimately improve management of febrile cases.

Methodology

Consenting febrile outpatients aged 6 months and older were recruited in 21 selected sentinel sites throughout Madagascar from April 2014 to September 2015. Standard clinical examinations were performed, and blood and upper respiratory specimens were taken for rapid diagnostic tests and molecular assays for 36 pathogens of interest for Madagascar in terms of public health, regardless of clinical status.

Principal findings

A total of 682 febrile patients were enrolled. We detected at least one pathogen in 40.5% (276/682) of patients and 6.2% (42/682) with co-infections. Among all tested patients, 26.5% (181/682) had at least one viral infection, 17.0% (116/682) had malaria and 1.0% (7/682) presented a bacterial or a mycobacterial infection. None or very few of the highly prevalent infectious agents in Eastern Africa and Asia were detected in this study, such as zoonotic bacteria or arboviral infections.

Conclusions

These results raise questions about etiologies of fever in Malagasy communities. Nevertheless, we noted that viral infections and malaria still represent a significant proportion of causes of febrile illnesses. Interestingly our study allowed the detection of pathogens of public health interest such as Rift Valley Fever Virus but also the first case of laboratory-confirmed leptospirosis infection in Madagascar.

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<![CDATA[Attenuation and efficacy of live-attenuated Rift Valley fever virus vaccine candidates in non-human primates]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5afd6995463d7e7322194032

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an important mosquito-borne veterinary and human pathogen that has caused large outbreaks of severe disease throughout Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Currently, no licensed vaccine or therapeutics exists to treat this potentially deadly disease. The explosive nature of RVFV outbreaks and the severe consequences of its accidental or intentional introduction into RVFV-free areas provide the impetus for the development of novel vaccine candidates for use in both livestock and humans. Rationally designed vaccine candidates using reverse genetics have been used to develop deletion mutants of two known RVFV virulence factors, the NSs and NSm genes. These recombinant viruses were demonstrated to be protective and immunogenic in rats, mice, and sheep, without producing clinical illness in these animals. Here, we expand upon those findings and evaluate the single deletion mutant (ΔNSs rRVFV) and double deletion mutant (ΔNSs-ΔNSm rRVFV) vaccine candidates in the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), a non-human primate (NHP) model resembling severe human RVF disease. We demonstrate that both the ΔNSs and ΔNSs-ΔNSm rRVFV vaccine candidates were found to be safe and immunogenic in the current study. The vaccinated animals received a single dose of vaccine that led to the development of a robust antibody response. No vaccine-induced adverse reactions, signs of clinical illness or infectious virus were detected in the vaccinated marmosets. All vaccinated animals that were subsequently challenged with RVFV were protected against viremia and liver disease. In summary, our results provide the basis for further development of the ΔNSs and ΔNSs-ΔNSm rRVFV as safe and effective human RVFV vaccines for this significant public health threat.

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<![CDATA[Anthropogenically driven environmental changes shift the ecological dynamics of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db54ab0ee8fa60bdcf53

Zoonoses are increasingly recognized as an important burden on global public health in the 21st century. High-resolution, long-term field studies are critical for assessing both the baseline and future risk scenarios in a world of rapid changes. We have used a three-decade-long field study on hantavirus, a rodent-borne zoonotic pathogen distributed worldwide, coupled with epidemiological data from an endemic area of China, and show that the shift in the ecological dynamics of Hantaan virus was closely linked to environmental fluctuations at the human-wildlife interface. We reveal that environmental forcing, especially rainfall and resource availability, exert important cascading effects on intra-annual variability in the wildlife reservoir dynamics, leading to epidemics that shift between stable and chaotic regimes. Our models demonstrate that bimodal seasonal epidemics result from a powerful seasonality in transmission, generated from interlocking cycles of agricultural phenology and rodent behavior driven by the rainy seasons.

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<![CDATA[Predictive Models for Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Spread Dynamics, Considering Frankliniella occidentalis Specific Life Processes as Influenced by the Virus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae8ab0ee8fa60bbe0ec

Several models have been studied on predictive epidemics of arthropod vectored plant viruses in an attempt to bring understanding to the complex but specific relationship between the three cornered pathosystem (virus, vector and host plant), as well as their interactions with the environment. A large body of studies mainly focuses on weather based models as management tool for monitoring pests and diseases, with very few incorporating the contribution of vector’s life processes in the disease dynamics, which is an essential aspect when mitigating virus incidences in a crop stand. In this study, we hypothesized that the multiplication and spread of tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) in a crop stand is strongly related to its influences on Frankliniella occidentalis preferential behavior and life expectancy. Model dynamics of important aspects in disease development within TSWV-F. occidentalis-host plant interactions were developed, focusing on F. occidentalis’ life processes as influenced by TSWV. The results show that the influence of TSWV on F. occidentalis preferential behaviour leads to an estimated increase in relative acquisition rate of the virus, and up to 33% increase in transmission rate to healthy plants. Also, increased life expectancy; which relates to improved fitness, is dependent on the virus induced preferential behaviour, consequently promoting multiplication and spread of the virus in a crop stand. The development of vector–based models could further help in elucidating the role of tri-trophic interactions in agricultural disease systems. Use of the model to examine the components of the disease process could also boost our understanding on how specific epidemiological characteristics interact to cause diseases in crops. With this level of understanding we can efficiently develop more precise control strategies for the virus and the vector.

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<![CDATA[Atomic Structure and Biochemical Characterization of an RNA Endonuclease in the N Terminus of Andes Virus L Protein]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da72ab0ee8fa60b952a5

Andes virus (ANDV) is a human-pathogenic hantavirus. Hantaviruses presumably initiate their mRNA synthesis by using cap structures derived from host cell mRNAs, a mechanism called cap-snatching. A signature for a cap-snatching endonuclease is present in the N terminus of hantavirus L proteins. In this study, we aimed to solve the atomic structure of the ANDV endonuclease and characterize its biochemical features. However, the wild-type protein was refractory to expression in Escherichia coli, presumably due to toxic enzyme activity. To circumvent this problem, we introduced attenuating mutations in the domain that were previously shown to enhance L protein expression in mammalian cells. Using this approach, 13 mutant proteins encompassing ANDV L protein residues 1–200 were successfully expressed and purified. Protein stability and nuclease activity of the mutants was analyzed and the crystal structure of one mutant was solved to a resolution of 2.4 Å. Shape in solution was determined by small angle X-ray scattering. The ANDV endonuclease showed structural similarities to related enzymes of orthobunya-, arena-, and orthomyxoviruses, but also differences such as elongated shape and positively charged patches surrounding the active site. The enzyme was dependent on manganese, which is bound to the active site, most efficiently cleaved single-stranded RNA substrates, did not cleave DNA, and could be inhibited by known endonuclease inhibitors. The atomic structure in conjunction with stability and activity data for the 13 mutant enzymes facilitated inference of structure–function relationships in the protein. In conclusion, we solved the structure of a hantavirus cap-snatching endonuclease, elucidated its catalytic properties, and present a highly active mutant form, which allows for inhibitor screening.

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<![CDATA[Crystal Structure of Glycoprotein C from a Hantavirus in the Post-fusion Conformation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da28ab0ee8fa60b81549

Hantaviruses are important emerging human pathogens and are the causative agents of serious diseases in humans with high mortality rates. Like other members in the Bunyaviridae family their M segment encodes two glycoproteins, GN and GC, which are responsible for the early events of infection. Hantaviruses deliver their tripartite genome into the cytoplasm by fusion of the viral and endosomal membranes in response to the reduced pH of the endosome. Unlike phleboviruses (e.g. Rift valley fever virus), that have an icosahedral glycoprotein envelope, hantaviruses display a pleomorphic virion morphology as GN and GC assemble into spikes with apparent four-fold symmetry organized in a grid-like pattern on the viral membrane. Here we present the crystal structure of glycoprotein C (GC) from Puumala virus (PUUV), a representative member of the Hantavirus genus. The crystal structure shows GC as the membrane fusion effector of PUUV and it presents a class II membrane fusion protein fold. Furthermore, GC was crystallized in its post-fusion trimeric conformation that until now had been observed only in Flavi- and Togaviridae family members. The PUUV GC structure together with our functional data provides intriguing evolutionary and mechanistic insights into class II membrane fusion proteins and reveals new targets for membrane fusion inhibitors against these important pathogens.

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<![CDATA[Endocytic Pathways Used by Andes Virus to Enter Primary Human Lung Endothelial Cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da30ab0ee8fa60b84105

Andes virus (ANDV) is the major cause of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in South America. Despite a high fatality rate (up to 40%), no vaccines or antiviral therapies are approved to treat ANDV infection. To understand the role of endocytic pathways in ANDV infection, we used 3 complementary approaches to identify cellular factors required for ANDV entry into human lung microvascular endothelial cells. We screened an siRNA library targeting 140 genes involved in membrane trafficking, and identified 55 genes required for ANDV infection. These genes control the major endocytic pathways, endosomal transport, cell signaling, and cytoskeleton rearrangement. We then used infectious ANDV and retroviral pseudovirions to further characterize the possible involvement of 9 of these genes in the early steps of ANDV entry. In addition, we used markers of cellular endocytosis along with chemical inhibitors of known endocytic pathways to show that ANDV uses multiple routes of entry to infect target cells. These entry mechanisms are mainly clathrin-, dynamin-, and cholesterol-dependent, but can also occur via a clathrin-independent manner.

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<![CDATA[Salicylic Acid Is Involved in the Basal Resistance of Tomato Plants to Citrus Exocortis Viroid and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f6ab0ee8fa60b70649

Tomato plants expressing the NahG transgene, which prevents accumulation of endogenous salicylic acid (SA), were used to study the importance of the SA signalling pathway in basal defence against Citrus Exocortis Viroid (CEVd) or Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). The lack of SA accumulation in the CEVd- or TSWV-infected NahG tomato plants led to an early and dramatic disease phenotype, as compared to that observed in the corresponding parental Money Maker. Addition of acibenzolar-S-methyl, a benzothiadiazole (BTH), which activates the systemic acquired resistance pathway downstream of SA signalling, improves resistance of NahG tomato plants to CEVd and TSWV. CEVd and TSWV inoculation induced the accumulation of the hydroxycinnamic amides p-coumaroyltyramine, feruloyltyramine, caffeoylputrescine, and feruloylputrescine, and the defence related proteins PR1 and P23 in NahG plants earlier and with more intensity than in Money Maker plants, indicating that SA is not essential for the induction of these plant defence metabolites and proteins. In addition, NahG plants produced very high levels of ethylene upon CEVd or TSWV infection when compared with infected Money Maker plants, indicating that the absence of SA produced additional effects on other metabolic pathways. This is the first report to show that SA is an important component of basal resistance of tomato plants to both CEVd and TSWV, indicating that SA-dependent defence mechanisms play a key role in limiting the severity of symptoms in CEVd- and TSWV-infected NahG tomato plants.

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<![CDATA[Human hantavirus infection elicits pronounced redistribution of mononuclear phagocytes in peripheral blood and airways]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5fab0ee8fa60be139d

Hantaviruses infect humans via inhalation of virus-contaminated rodent excreta. Infection can cause severe disease with up to 40% mortality depending on the viral strain. The virus primarily targets the vascular endothelium without direct cytopathic effects. Instead, exaggerated immune responses may inadvertently contribute to disease development. Mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs), including monocytes and dendritic cells (DCs), orchestrate the adaptive immune responses. Since hantaviruses are transmitted via inhalation, studying immunological events in the airways is of importance to understand the processes leading to immunopathogenesis. Here, we studied 17 patients infected with Puumala virus that causes a mild form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). Bronchial biopsies as well as longitudinal blood draws were obtained from the patients. During the acute stage of disease, a significant influx of MNPs expressing HLA-DR, CD11c or CD123 was detected in the patients’ bronchial tissue. In parallel, absolute numbers of MNPs were dramatically reduced in peripheral blood, coinciding with viremia. Expression of CCR7 on the remaining MNPs in blood suggested migration to peripheral and/or lymphoid tissues. Numbers of MNPs in blood subsequently normalized during the convalescent phase of the disease when viral RNA was no longer detectable in plasma. Finally, we exposed blood MNPs in vitro to Puumala virus, and demonstrated an induction of CCR7 expression on MNPs. In conclusion, the present study shows a marked redistribution of blood MNPs to the airways during acute hantavirus disease, a process that may underlie the local immune activation and contribute to immunopathogenesis in hantavirus-infected patients.

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<![CDATA[siRNA Screen Identifies Trafficking Host Factors that Modulate Alphavirus Infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da74ab0ee8fa60b9624a

Little is known about the repertoire of cellular factors involved in the replication of pathogenic alphaviruses. To uncover molecular regulators of alphavirus infection, and to identify candidate drug targets, we performed a high-content imaging-based siRNA screen. We revealed an actin-remodeling pathway involving Rac1, PIP5K1- α, and Arp3, as essential for infection by pathogenic alphaviruses. Infection causes cellular actin rearrangements into large bundles of actin filaments termed actin foci. Actin foci are generated late in infection concomitantly with alphavirus envelope (E2) expression and are dependent on the activities of Rac1 and Arp3. E2 associates with actin in alphavirus-infected cells and co-localizes with Rac1–PIP5K1-α along actin filaments in the context of actin foci. Finally, Rac1, Arp3, and actin polymerization inhibitors interfere with E2 trafficking from the trans-Golgi network to the cell surface, suggesting a plausible model in which transport of E2 to the cell surface is mediated via Rac1- and Arp3-dependent actin remodeling.

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<![CDATA[Development and Assessment of a Geographic Knowledge-Based Model for Mapping Suitable Areas for Rift Valley Fever Transmission in Eastern Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f7ab0ee8fa60b7099a

Rift Valley fever (RVF), a mosquito-borne disease affecting ruminants and humans, is one of the most important viral zoonoses in Africa. The objective of the present study was to develop a geographic knowledge-based method to map the areas suitable for RVF amplification and RVF spread in four East African countries, namely, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia, and to assess the predictive accuracy of the model using livestock outbreak data from Kenya and Tanzania. Risk factors and their relative importance regarding RVF amplification and spread were identified from a literature review. A numerical weight was calculated for each risk factor using an analytical hierarchy process. The corresponding geographic data were collected, standardized and combined based on a weighted linear combination to produce maps of the suitability for RVF transmission. The accuracy of the resulting maps was assessed using RVF outbreak locations in livestock reported in Kenya and Tanzania between 1998 and 2012 and the ROC curve analysis. Our results confirmed the capacity of the geographic information system-based multi-criteria evaluation method to synthesize available scientific knowledge and to accurately map (AUC = 0.786; 95% CI [0.730–0.842]) the spatial heterogeneity of RVF suitability in East Africa. This approach provides users with a straightforward and easy update of the maps according to data availability or the further development of scientific knowledge.

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<![CDATA[Andes Hantavirus-Infection of a 3D Human Lung Tissue Model Reveals a Late Peak in Progeny Virus Production Followed by Increased Levels of Proinflammatory Cytokines and VEGF-A]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da63ab0ee8fa60b91687

Andes virus (ANDV) causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), a severe acute disease with a 40% case fatality rate. Humans are infected via inhalation, and the lungs are severely affected during HPS, but little is known regarding the effects of ANDV-infection of the lung. Using a 3-dimensional air-exposed organotypic human lung tissue model, we analyzed progeny virus production and cytokine-responses after ANDV-infection. After a 7–10 day period of low progeny virus production, a sudden peak in progeny virus levels was observed during approximately one week. This peak in ANDV-production coincided in time with activation of innate immune responses, as shown by induction of type I and III interferons and ISG56. After the peak in ANDV production a low, but stable, level of ANDV progeny was observed until 39 days after infection. Compared to uninfected models, ANDV caused long-term elevated levels of eotaxin-1, IL-6, IL-8, IP-10, and VEGF-A that peaked 20–25 days after infection, i.e., after the observed peak in progeny virus production. Notably, eotaxin-1 was only detected in supernatants from infected models. In conclusion, these findings suggest that ANDV replication in lung tissue elicits a late proinflammatory immune response with possible long-term effects on the local lung cytokine milieu. The change from an innate to a proinflammatory response might be important for the transition from initial asymptomatic infection to severe clinical disease, HPS.

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<![CDATA[Serological Evidence of Contrasted Exposure to Arboviral Infections between Islands of the Union of Comoros (Indian Ocean)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db03ab0ee8fa60bc74ed

A cross sectional serological survey of arboviral infections in humans was conducted on the three islands of the Union of Comoros, Indian Ocean, in order to test a previously suggested contrasted exposure of the three neighboring islands to arthropod-borne epidemics. Four hundred human sera were collected on Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli) and Ndzouani (Anjouan), and were tested by ELISA for IgM and/or IgG antibodies to Dengue (DENV), Chikungunya (CHIKV), Rift Valley fever (RVFV), West Nile (WNV), Tick borne encephalitis (TBEV) and Yellow fever (YFV) viruses and for neutralizing antibodies to DENV serotypes 1–4. Very few sera were positive for IgM antibodies to the tested viruses indicating that the sero-survey was performed during an inter epidemic phase for the investigated arbovirus infections, except for RVF which showed evidence of recent infections on all three islands. IgG reactivity with at least one arbovirus was observed in almost 85% of tested sera, with seropositivity rates increasing with age, indicative of an intense and long lasting exposure of the Comorian population to arboviral risk. Interestingly, the positivity rates for IgG antibodies to DENV and CHIKV were significantly higher on Ngazidja, confirming the previously suggested prominent exposure of this island to these arboviruses, while serological traces of WNV infection were detected most frequently on Mwali suggesting some transmission specificities associated with this island only. The study provides the first evidence for circulation of RVFV in human populations from the Union of Comoros and further suggests that the virus is currently circulating on the three islands in an inconspicuous manner. This study supports contrasted exposure of the islands of the Comoros archipelago to arboviral infections. The observation is discussed in terms of ecological factors that may affect the abundance and distribution of vector populations on the three islands as well as concurring anthropogenic factors that may impact arbovirus transmission in this diverse island ecosystem.

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<![CDATA[Development and evaluation of a bioinformatics approach for designing molecular assays for viral detection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5cab0ee8fa60be0063

Background

Viruses belonging to the Flaviviridae and Bunyaviridae families show considerable genetic diversity. However, this diversity is not necessarily taken into account when developing diagnostic assays, which are often based on the pairwise alignment of a limited number of sequences. Our objective was to develop and evaluate a bioinformatics workflow addressing two recurrent issues of molecular assay design: (i) the high intraspecies genetic diversity in viruses and (ii) the potential for cross-reactivity with close relatives.

Methodology

The workflow developed herein was based on two consecutive BLASTn steps; the first was utilized to select highly conserved regions among the viral taxon of interest, and the second was employed to assess the degree of similarity of these highly-conserved regions to close relatives. Subsequently, the workflow was tested on a set of eight viral species, including various strains from the Flaviviridae and Bunyaviridae families.

Principal findings

The genetic diversity ranges from as low as 0.45% variable sites over the complete genome of the Japanese encephalitis virus to more than 16% of variable sites on segment L of the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus. Our proposed bioinformatics workflow allowed the selection—based on computing scores—of the best target for a diagnostic molecular assay for the eight viral species investigated.

Conclusions/Significance

Our bioinformatics workflow allowed rapid selection of highly conserved and specific genomic fragments among the investigated viruses, while considering up to several hundred complete genomic sequences. The pertinence of this workflow will increase in parallel to the number of sequences made publicly available. We hypothesize that our workflow might be utilized to select diagnostic molecular markers for higher organisms with more complex genomes, provided the sequences are made available.

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<![CDATA[Spatial Heterogeneity of Habitat Suitability for Rift Valley Fever Occurrence in Tanzania: An Ecological Niche Modelling Approach]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf5ab0ee8fa60bc2a31

Background

Despite the long history of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in Tanzania, extent of its suitable habitat in the country remains unclear. In this study we investigated potential effects of temperature, precipitation, elevation, soil type, livestock density, rainfall pattern, proximity to wild animals, protected areas and forest on the habitat suitability for RVF occurrence in Tanzania.

Materials and Methods

Presence-only records of 193 RVF outbreak locations from 1930 to 2007 together with potential predictor variables were used to model and map the suitable habitats for RVF occurrence using ecological niche modelling. Ground-truthing of the model outputs was conducted by comparing the levels of RVF virus specific antibodies in cattle, sheep and goats sampled from locations in Tanzania that presented different predicted habitat suitability values.

Principal Findings

Habitat suitability values for RVF occurrence were higher in the northern and central-eastern regions of Tanzania than the rest of the regions in the country. Soil type and precipitation of the wettest quarter contributed equally to habitat suitability (32.4% each), followed by livestock density (25.9%) and rainfall pattern (9.3%). Ground-truthing of model outputs revealed that the odds of an animal being seropositive for RVFV when sampled from areas predicted to be most suitable for RVF occurrence were twice the odds of an animal sampled from areas least suitable for RVF occurrence (95% CI: 1.43, 2.76, p < 0.001).

Conclusion/Significance

The regions in the northern and central-eastern Tanzania were more suitable for RVF occurrence than the rest of the regions in the country. The modelled suitable habitat is characterised by impermeable soils, moderate precipitation in the wettest quarter, high livestock density and a bimodal rainfall pattern. The findings of this study should provide guidance for the design of appropriate RVF surveillance, prevention and control strategies which target areas with these characteristics.

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