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Allerberger F.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Wagner M.,Institute for Milk Hygiene
Clinical Microbiology and Infection | Year: 2010

Listeria monocytogenes is the causative agent of human listeriosis, a potentially fatal foodborne infection. Clinical manifestations range from febrile gastroenteritis to more severe invasive forms, including sepsis, meningitis, rhombencephalitis, perinatal infections, and abortions. In recent years, an increasing rate of listeriosis has been reported in several European countries. These increases primarily reflect a higher rate of bacteraemic listeriosis in those ≥65 years of age, and are not otherwise correlated with geography, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic factors or infectious serotypes. In the late 1980s, an upsurge in listeriosis rates was due to the contamination of a small number of food products. However, a restricted range of strains was responsible for most of the additional cases at that time, and no evidence exists for such a pattern since 2001. From a clinical perspective, the importance of isolating the pathogen as a prerequisite for an accurate epidemiological investigation and ultimately stopping transmission cannot be overemphasized. © 2009 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2009 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Kump P.K.,Medical University of Graz | Krause R.,Medical University of Graz | Allerberger F.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Hogenauer C.,Medical University of Graz
Clinical Microbiology and Infection | Year: 2014

The intestinal microbiome is essential for maintaining human health and defending against intestinal pathogens. Alterations of the intestinal microbiota, also termed dysbiosis, play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of various human diseases. Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is aimed at correcting these alterations by delivering faecal microorganisms from a healthy person to the intestines of a patient. At present, recurrent Clostridium difficile infection is the only indication supported by solid scientific evidence, but many ongoing studies are investigating FMT in other dysbiosis-related diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease. As there are no systematic methodological investigations, several questions about techniques, donor screening and safety issues remain. This shortage of evidence, especially on long-term safety concerns, is leading to worldwide controversy regarding the use of FMT. Regulations by healthcare authorities vary among different countries. This review reflects the Austrian situation and its FMT guidelines concerning indications, techniques and donor screening, recently developed by local scientific societies. © 2014 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Fretz R.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES
Euro surveillance : bulletin européen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin | Year: 2010

We previously reported an outbreak of listeriosis in Austria and Germany due to consumption of Quargel cheese. It comprised 14 cases (including five fatalities) infected by a serotype 1/2a Listeria monocytogenes (clone 1), with onset of illness from June 2009 to January 2010. A second strain of L. monocytogenes serotype 1/2a (clone 2) spread by this product could be linked to further 13 cases in Austria (two fatal), six in Germany (one fatal) and one case in the Czech Republic, with onset of disease from December 2009 to end of February 2010.

Wodak E.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Richter S.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Bago Z.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Revilla-Fernandez S.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | And 3 more authors.
Veterinary Microbiology | Year: 2011

The emergence of West Nile virus (WNV) was expected in Austria since the initial discovery of the infection in neighbouring Hungary in 2003/2004. In 2008 six cases of West Nile disease were diagnosed at the Institute for Veterinary Disease Control Mödling, Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), involving five goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) and one gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus), which were found dead in the eastern Austrian federal states of Lower Austria, Vienna and Styria, respectively. Pathomorphological and immunohistochemical findings suggested a WNV infection. Virus was isolated in embryonated specific pathogen free chicken eggs and propagated in mouse neuroblastoma cells (NA), in which a cytopathic effect occurred. The virus was identified and characterised by electron microscopic examination and molecular detection using RT-PCR, sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis. The Austrian WNV sequences exhibited nucleotide identities of 99.9% to the lineage 2 WNV sequences described in Hungary since 2004. In addition, 71 sera of 14 different bird species were screened for the presence of WNV antibodies using a commercial ELISA: 43.7% of the tested samples showed antibody titers. Selected positive sera were also subjected to WNV neutralisation tests, in which the ELISA results were verified in 66%. The results of this study confirm unambiguously the presence of a lineage 2 WNV infection in birds of prey in the eastern part of Austria. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Pester D.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2011

The bacterial plant disease fire blight is known in Europe since the 1950s, still spreading worldwide and classified as quarantine pest disease in many European countries. Especially in apple or pear orchards, fire blight can result in high economic losses. The main infection path for the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora is through the floral nectaries upon transfer by insects to the flower's pistil. Although hrp genes, which encode a type III secretion system, were identified as important for the bacterial infection, we know little about their regulation in the early bacteria-plant-interaction. To describe the bacterial infection progress in flowers, the expression of hrpL and hrpA was monitored applying a new qPCR protocol. Single flowers were harvested 6, 24, 48 and 72 h post E. amylovora inoculation from three apple trees 'Golden Delicious'. Expression of hrpL and hrpA correlated well for single flowers. Interestingly, hrp expression levels between flowers varied, which might reflect different infection efficiencies as observed also in natural infections. In summary, a fast transcriptional induction of hrp expression was observed within 48 hours. Thereafter, hrpL and hrpA expression declined, which correlates well with the onset of transcriptional plant response. This indicates that E. amylovora outcompetes plant defense in time during natural flower infections.

Allerberger F.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Huhulescu S.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES
Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy | Year: 2015

Listeriosis during pregnancy usually presents as an unremarkable febrile illness in the mother but can be fatal for the fetus and newborn. Reliable laboratory testing for early diagnosis is lacking. Serological antibody tests and bacteriological stool tests are not helpful since Listeria-specific antibodies and stool cultures yielding the organism can be found in healthy pregnant women. Because early diagnosis is difficult, diagnosis is usually made by culturing the pathogen from blood, cerebrospinal fluid, placenta or meconium. The mortality rate for fetal and newborn listeriosis remains approximately 20%. Two to three cases of pregnancy-associated listeriosis are reported annually in Austria among approximately 79,000 births, 20-30 cases are reported annually in Germany among approximately 680,000 births and 50-100 cases are reported annually in the USA among approximately 4 million births. Although Listeria infections in pregnancy are rare, they should be considered as a cause of fever of unknown origin during pregnancy. © 2015 Informa UK, Ltd

Ruppitsch W.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Pietzka A.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Prior K.,University Hospital Muenster | Bletz S.,University Hospital Muenster | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology | Year: 2015

Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) has emerged today as an ultimate typing tool to characterize Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks. However, data analysis and interlaboratory comparability of WGS data are still challenging for most public health laboratories. Therefore, we have developed and evaluated a new L. monocytogenes typing scheme based on genome-wide gene-bygene comparisons (core genome multilocus the sequence typing [cgMLST]) to allow for a unique typing nomenclature. Initially, we determined the breadth of the L. monocytogenes population based on MLST data with a Bayesian approach. Based on the genome sequence data of representative isolates for the whole population, cgMLST target genes were defined and reappraised with 67 L. monocytogenes isolates from two outbreaks and serotype reference strains. The Bayesian population analysis generated five L. monocytogenes groups. Using all available NCBI RefSeq genomes (n=36) and six additionally sequenced strains, all genetic groups were covered. Pairwise comparisons of these 42 genome sequences resulted in 1,701 cgMLST targets present in all 42 genomes with 100% overlap and≥90% sequence similarity. Overall, ≥99.1% of the cgMLST targets were present in 67 outbreak and serotype reference strains, underlining the representativeness of the cgMLST scheme. Moreover, cgMLST enabled clustering of outbreak isolates with≤10 alleles difference and unambiguous separation from unrelated outgroup isolates. In conclusion, the novel cgMLST scheme not only improves outbreak investigations but also enables, due to the availability of the automatically curated cgMLST nomenclature, interlaboratory exchange of data that are crucial, especially for rapid responses during transsectorial outbreaks. © 2015 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

Allerberger F.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health | Year: 2012

Using three Austrian case studies, the variegated applications of molecular typing in today's public health laboratories are discussed to help illustrate preventive management strategies relying on DNA subtyping. DNA macrorestriction analysis by pulsed field gel electrophoresis has become the gold standard for subtyping of food borne pathogens like listeria, salmonella, campylobacter and Bacillus cereus. Using a Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak from the year 2010 as example, it is shown how the comparison of patterns from human isolates, food isolates, animal isolates and feed isolates can allow to identify and confirm a source of disease. An epidemiological connection between the simultaneous occurrence of tuberculosis in cattle and deer with cases of human tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium caprae in 2010 was excluded using mycobacterial interspersed repetitive units variable-number tandem repeats subtyping. Also in 2010, multilocus sequence typing with nonselective housekeeping genes, the so-called sequence based typing protocol, was used to elucidate connections between an environmental source (a hospital drinking water system) and a case of legionellosis. During the last decades, molecular typing has evolved to become a routine tool in the daily work of public health laboratories. The challenge is now no longer to simply type microorganisms, but to type them in a way that allows for data exchange between public health laboratories all over the world.

Spina A.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES | Eramova I.,World Health Organization | Lazarus J.V.,Copenhagen University
BMC Infectious Diseases | Year: 2014

Background: Unsafe injections, through infectious bodily fluids, are a major route of transmission for hepatitis B and C. Viral hepatitis burden among people who inject drugs is particularly high in many Member States of central and Eastern Europe while national capacity and willingness to address it varies greatly.In 2013, the World Health Organization conducted a survey assessing national viral hepatitis efforts of 194 national governments. Here, we present a sub-analysis of this global survey focusing on questions relating to people who inject drugs in the WHO European Region.Methods: The initial survey included 43 questions covering awareness, data, prevention, and screening and treatment. It was sent in five languages to identified national focal points. This sub-analysis included 11 questions and 53 Member States in the WHO European Region. Descriptive analyses of national activities are presented. As a secondary outcome bivariate analyses of differences between Member States of the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) compared to those not in said grouping are presented.Results: Forty-four of the 53 Member States responded to the survey (response rate of 83%). More than three-quarters reported offering publicly-funded treatment for HBV or HCV (82% and 80%, respectively), with a significantly higher proportion of EU/EFTA Member States (P=0.004 and P=0.010, respectively). Half of Member States (53%) reported the existence of a national policy for hepatitis prevention and control; however less than one-third (27%) reported having written national strategies. Under half of the responding Member States reported holding events for World Hepatitis Day 2012. One-fifth reported offering hepatitis B and C testing free of charge, with less than one-third reportedly conducting regular serosurveys among people who inject drugs.Conclusions: Findings highlight key gaps requiring attention in order to improve national policies and programmes in the region and ensure an adequate response to injection drug use-associated viral hepatitis. Further studies are required to assess quality and impact of national policies and services. © 2014 Spina et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Kapeller R.,Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES
Journal of Chromatography A | Year: 2015

Constant and reproducible retention times are a basic requirement to allow the automatic peak assignment in complex gas chromatograms. Drifting retention times are best handled by frequent updates, based on reference peaks. Some refinements of this concept have been reported as well as alternative concepts, including pattern recognition algorithms to achieve ultimate precision; however, in applications requiring a wide concentration range, the effects of concentration on the retention time of individual peaks may become relevant, requiring special considerations. The analysis of fatty acid methyl esters is such an application. A model describing concentration related effects was drawn up and found to work best for this purpose. The precision of peak alignment could be improved by an order of magnitude, allowing reliable automation of routine analysis. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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