Browsing by Subject "zoonoses"

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  • Lohi, Saska (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Bats can act as potential vectors for various zoonotic diseases and other pathogens. Therefore their interactions with people should be examined to mitigate potential risks. Bats are small flying mammals and hide in small crevices during daylight hours, making them difficult to observe. Consequently, they have a capacity to “hitchhike” on ships to be dispersed over large distances. This study focused on anthropogenic unintentional bat translocations, i.e. hitchhiking bats. The study area is the Great Lakes region in North America. Using a web-based questionnaire survey, I asked the public about the frequency of bat-human encounters on ships, their nature, and perceived risks and incidents. I found that bats are commonly seen by people working on ships at the Great Lakes. Bats do not cause trouble other than scaring people. Based on photographic evidence, at least one bat was seen on a ship outside of its native range. Therefore ships might act as vectors, helping bats to disperse to new areas. This might provide pathways for pathogens to spread along, from bats to bats or from bats to humans. The risks related to hitchhiking bats seem to be rather limited. Rabies risk is the most obvious, but no cases of people getting rabies infection from hitchhiking bats were acknowledged. The possibility of ships translocating bats infected with Pseudogymnoascus destructans remains unknown. This study demonstrates how by engaging the public it is possible to gather novel scientific knowledge, and deepen our understanding about the relationship between man and wildlife. There are numerous hidden ways of how people interact with animal species. This study illuminates one of these ways, but many more are yet to be studied.
  • Verkola, Marie; Jarvelä, Terhi; Järvinen, Asko; Jokelainen, Pikka; Virtala, Anna-Maija; Kinnunen, Paula M.; Heikinheimo, Annamari (2021)
    Background: Veterinarians face the risk of contracting zoonotic pathogens. Infection prevention and control (IPC) guidelines stress the importance of proper hand hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent transmission of these pathogens. Objectives: We aimed to assess how ambulatory livestock and equine veterinarians follow IPC guidelines, when working on farms and in stables. Methods: We studied hygiene practices of livestock and equine ambulatory veterinarians (n = 129) in Finland. A web-based questionnaire was used to obtain demographic information and information regarding hand-hygiene facilities and practices, use and cleaning of PPE and cleaning of medical equipment. Results: According to 66.9% of the respondents, hand-washing facilities were often adequate on livestock farms, but only 21.4% reported that this was the case in stables (p <.001). While 75.0% reported washing their hands or using hand sanitizer always before moving on to the next farm, only 42.5% reported doing this before moving on to the next stables (p <.001). Universal protective coat or coverall use was more common in livestock practice than in equine practice (91.6% vs. 27.7%, p <.001). Stethoscope cleaning was reported to happen less frequently than once a week by 30.0% of the respondents. Conclusions: Finnish veterinarians' self-reported IPC adherence was far from uniform. IPC was more commonly followed in ambulatory livestock practice perhaps facilitated by better hand-washing facilities on farms than in stables. The study suggests that education of veterinarians is still needed and that hand-washing facilities need to be improved even in a high-income country.
  • Alburkat, Hussein; Jääskeläinen, Anne; Barakat, Ali; Hasony, Hassan; Sironen, Tarja; Al-hello, Haider; Smura, Teemu; Vapalahti, Olli (2020)
    Acute febrile neurological infection cases in southern Iraq (N = 212) were screened for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Two LCMV IgM–positive serum samples and 2 cerebrospinal fluid samples with phylogenetically distinct LCMV strains were found. The overall LCMV seroprevalence was 8.8%. LCMV infections are common and associated with acute neurological disease in Iraq.
  • Strandin, Tomas; Smura, Teemu; Ahola, Paula; Aaltonen, Kirsi; Sironen, Tarja; Hepojoki, Jussi; Eckerle, Isabella; Ulrich, Rainer G.; Vapalahti, Olli; Kipar, Anja; Forbes, Kristian M. (2020)
    Orthohantaviruses are globally emerging zoonotic pathogens. While the reservoir host role of several rodent species is well-established, detailed research on the mechanisms of host-othohantavirus interactions has been constrained by the lack of an experimental system that is able to effectively replicate natural infections in controlled settings. Here we report the isolation, and genetic and phenotypic characterization of a novel Puumala orthohantavirus (PUUV) in cells derived from its reservoir host, the bank vole. The isolation process resulted in cell culture infection that evaded antiviral responses, persisted cell passaging, and had minor viral genome alterations. Critically, experimental infections of bank voles with the new isolate resembled natural infections in terms of viral load and host cell distribution. When compared to an attenuated Vero E6 cell-adapted PUUV Kazan strain, the novel isolate demonstrated delayed virus-specific humoral responses. A lack of virus-specific antibodies was also observed during experimental infections with wild-type PUUV, suggesting that delayed seroconversion could be a general phenomenon during orthohantavirus infection in reservoir hosts. Our results demonstrate that orthohantavirus isolation on cells derived from a vole reservoir host retains wild-type infection properties and should be considered the method of choice for experimental infection models to replicate natural processes.
  • Sane, J.; Ollgren, J.; Makary, P.; Vapalahti, O.; Kuusi, M.; Lyytikainen, O. (2016)
    Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) causes haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome in humans, an endemic disease in Finland. We aimed to study recent trends in PUUV infections in Finland, to evaluate whether there are regional differences in seasonality and long-term cycles and whether the patterns have changed over time. We analysed serologically confirmed acute PUUV infections reported to the National Infectious Disease Register from 1 April 1995 to 31 March 2014. A total of 30 942 cases of PUUV infections were identified during the study period. The average annual incidence was 31 cases/100 000 person-years with the highest in Eastern Finland and the lowest in Southwestern Finland. Throughout Finland there was not an increasing trend in incidence but changes in incidence, seasonality and long-term cycles differed regionally. Long-term cycles supported by high Bayesian posterior probabilities (73-100%) differed between the south and the north, shifting from 3 to 4 years, respectively. Temporal changes in seasonality were most prominent in Southwestern Finland. The pattern of human PUUV infection epidemiology probably primarily reflects the spatio-temporal interaction between bank-vole population dynamics and climate.
  • Nguyen, Tu Thi Kha; Ngo, Tue Tri; Tran, Phuc My; Pham, Tam Thi Thanh; Vu, Hang Thi Ty; Nguyen, Ny Thi Han; Thwaites, Guy; Virtala, Anna-Maija K.; Vapalahti, Olli; Baker, Stephen; Van, Tan Le (2020)
    Active surveillance for zoonotic respiratory viruses is essential to inform the development of appropriate interventions and outbreak responses. Here we target individuals with a high frequency of animal exposure in Vietnam. Three-year community-based surveillance was conducted in Vietnam during 2013-2016. We enrolled a total of 581 individuals (animal-raising farmers, slaughterers, animal-health workers, and rat traders), and utilized reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction to detect 15 common respiratory viruses in pooled nasal-throat swabs collected at baseline or acute respiratory disease episodes. A respiratory virus was detected in 7.9% (58 of 732) of baseline samples, and 17.7% (136 of 770) of disease episode samples (P <.001), with enteroviruses (EVs), rhinoviruses and influenza A virus being the predominant viruses detected. There were temporal and spatial fluctuations in the frequencies of the detected viruses over the study period, for example, EVs and influenza A viruses were more often detected during rainy seasons. We reported the detection of common respiratory viruses in individuals with a high frequency of animal exposure in Vietnam, an emerging infectious disease hotspot. The results show the value of baseline/control sampling in delineating the causative relationships and have revealed important insights into the ecological aspects of EVs, rhinoviruses and influenza A and their contributions to the burden posed by respiratory infections in Vietnam.
  • Jääskeläinen, Anne J; Voutilainen, Liina; Lehmusto, R.; Henttonen, H.; Lappalainen, Maija; Kallio-Kokko, H.; Vaheri, A.; Vapalahti, O. (2016)
    Ljungan virus (LV) is a picornavirus related to human parechoviruses (HPeV). The virus has been found in bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and several other rodent species, and suggested to have zoonotic potential. Thus far, seroepidemiological data on LV infections in humans are scarce. In this study, we aimed to characterize the demographic and geographical distribution of LV-reactive antibodies in Finland, and to investigate its occurrence in patients suspected of having a rodent-borne disease, nephropathia epidemica (NE) caused by Puumala hantavirus (PUUV). Using an immunofluorescence assay (LV strain 145SLG), we screened human sera (n = 1378) and found LV-reactive antibodies in 36% of samples. The probability of possessing LV-reactive antibodies peaked at age of 14 years, suggesting that most infections occur in childhood. The prevalence of LV-reactive antibodies was significantly higher in the urbanized area surrounding Helsinki than in more rural Central Finland. These findings are uncharacteristic of a rodent-borne pathogen, and therefore we consider human-to-human transmission of one or several Ljungan-like viruses as a likely cause for most of the observed antibody responses.
  • Ahlm, C.; Eliasson, M.; Vapalahti, O.; Evander, M. (2014)
  • VIZIONS Consortium; Thi Kha Tu, Nguyen; Thi Thu Hong, Nguyen; Thi Han Ny, Nguyen; My Phuc, Tran; Thi Thanh Tam, Pham; Doorn, H. Rogier van; Dang Trung Nghia, Ho; Thao Huong, Dang; An Han, Duong; Thi Thu Ha, Luu; Deng, Xutao; Thwaites, Guy; Delwart, Eric; Virtala, Anna-Maija K.; Vapalahti, Olli; Baker, Stephen; Van Tan, Le (2020)
    The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic emphasizes the need to actively study the virome of unexplained respiratory diseases. We performed viral metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) analysis of 91 nasal-throat swabs from individuals working with animals and with acute respiratory diseases. Fifteen virus RT-PCR-positive samples were included as controls, while the other 76 samples were RT-PCR negative for a wide panel of respiratory pathogens. Eukaryotic viruses detected by mNGS were then screened by PCR (using primers based on mNGS-derived contigs) in all samples to compare viral detection by mNGS versus PCR and assess the utility of mNGS in routine diagnostics. mNGS identified expected human rhinoviruses, enteroviruses, influenza A virus, coronavirus OC43, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) A in 13 of 15 (86.7%) positive control samples. Additionally, rotavirus, torque teno virus, human papillomavirus, human betaherpesvirus 7, cyclovirus, vientovirus, gemycircularvirus, and statovirus were identified through mNGS. Notably, complete genomes of novel cyclovirus, gemycircularvirus, and statovirus were genetically characterized. Using PCR screening, the novel cyclovirus was additionally detected in 5 and the novel gemycircularvirus in 12 of the remaining samples included for mNGS analysis. Our studies therefore provide pioneering data of the virome of acute-respiratory diseases from individuals at risk of zoonotic infections. The mNGS protocol/pipeline applied here is sensitive for the detection of a variety of viruses, including novel ones. More frequent detections of the novel viruses by PCR than by mNGS on the same samples suggests that PCR remains the most sensitive diagnostic test for viruses whose genomes are known. The detection of novel viruses expands our understanding of the respiratory virome of animal-exposed humans and warrant further studies.
  • Pieters, R. J; Slotved, H. C; Møller Mortensen, H.; Arler, L; Finne, J; Haataja, Sauli; Joosten, J. A. F; Branderhorst, H. M; Krogfelt, K. A (2013)
  • Joutsen, Suvi; Laukkanen-Ninios, Riikka; Henttonen, Heikki; Niemimaa, Jukka; Voutilainen, Liina; Kallio, Eva R.; Helle, Heikki; Korkeala, Hannu; Fredriksson-Ahomaa, Maria (2017)
    Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis are important zoonotic bacteria causing human enteric yersiniosis commonly reported in Europe. All Y. pseudotuberculosis strains are considered pathogenic, while Y. enterocolitica include both pathogenic and nonpathogenic strains which can be divided into six biotypes (1A, 1B, and 2-5) and about 30 serotypes. The most common types causing yersiniosis in Europe are Y. enterocolitica bioserotypes 4/O:3 and 2/O:9. Strains belonging to biotype 1A are considered as nonpathogenic because they are missing important virulence genes like the attachment-invasion-locus (ail) gene in the chromosome and the virulence plasmid. The role of wild small mammals as a reservoir of enteropathogenic Yersinia spp. is still obscure. In this study, the presence of Yersinia spp. was examined from 1840 wild small mammals, including voles, mice, and shrews, trapped in Finland during a 7-year period. We isolated seven Yersinia species. Y. enterocolitica was the most common species, isolated from 8% of the animals; while most of these isolates represented nonpathogenic biotype 1A, human pathogenic bioserotype 2/O:9 was also isolated from a field vole. Y. pseudotuberculosis of bioserotype 1/O:2 was isolated from two shrews. The ail gene, which is typically only found in the isolates of biotypes 1B and 2-5 associated with yersiniosis, was frequently (23%) detected in the nonpathogenic isolates of biotype 1A and sporadically (6%) in Yersinia kristensenii isolates. Our results suggest that wild small mammals, especially voles, may serve as carriers for ail-positive Y. enterocolitica 1A and Y. kristensenii. We also demonstrate that voles and shrews sporadically excrete pYV-positive Y. enterocolitica 2/O:9 and Y. pseudotuberculosis 1/O:2, respectively, in their feces and, thus, can serve as a contamination source for vegetables by contaminating the soil.