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Eden J.-S.,University of New South Wales | Bull R.A.,University of New South Wales | Tu E.,University of New South Wales | Tu E.,Prince of Wales Hospital | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Clinical Virology | Year: 2010

Background: Over the last decade, four epidemics of norovirus-associated gastroenteritis have been reported in Australia. These epidemics were characterized by numerous outbreaks in institutional settings such as hospitals and nursing homes, as well as increases in requests for NoV testing in diagnostic centers. During 2007 and 2008, widespread outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis were once again seen across Australia, peaking during the winter months. Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to characterize two winter epidemics of NoV-associated gastroenteritis in 2007 and 2008 in Australia. Following this, we aimed to determine if these epidemics were caused by a new GII.4 variant or a previously circulating NoV strain. Study design: NoV-positive fecal samples (n= 219) were collected over a 2-year period, December 2006 to December 2008, from cases of acute gastroenteritis in Australia. NoV RNA was amplified from these samples using a nested RT-PCR approach targeting the 5′ end of the capsid gene, termed region C. Further, characterization was performed by sequence analysis of the RdRp and capsid genes and recombination was identified using SimPlot. Results: From 2004 to 2008, peaks in the numbers of NoV-positive EIA tests from the Prince of Wales Hospital Laboratory correlated with the overall number of gastroenteritis outbreaks reported to NSW Health, thereby supporting recent studies showing that NoV is the major cause of outbreak gastroenteritis. The predominant NoV GII variant identified during the 2007-2008 period was the GII.4 pandemic variant, 2006b (71.51%, 128/179), which replaced the 2006a variant identified in the previous Australian epidemic of 2006. Four novel GII variants were also identified including the three GII.4 variants: NoV 2008, NoV Osaka 2007 and NoV Cairo 2007, and one novel recombinant NoV designated GII.e/GII.12. Conclusion: The increase in acute gastroenteritis outbreaks in 2007 and 2008 were associated with the spread of the NoV GII.4 variant 2006b. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Ritchie S.A.,James Cook University | Ritchie S.A.,Cairns Population Health Unit | Pyke A.T.,Public Health Virology | Hall-Mendelin S.,Public Health Virology | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

From November 2008-May 2009 Cairns Queensland Australia was struck by an explosive epidemic of DENV-3 that exceeded the capacity of highly skilled dengue control team to control it. We describe the environmental, virological and entomological factors associated with this outbreak to better understand the circumstances leading to its occurrence. Patient interviews, serological results and viral sequencing strongly suggest that the imported index case was infected in Kalimantan, Indonesia. A delay in notification of 27 days from importation of the index case until Queensland Health was notified of dengue transmission allowed the virus to amplify and spread unchecked through November 2008. Unseasonably warm weather, with daily mean temperatures exceeding 30°C, occurred in late November and would have shortened the extrinsic incubation period of the virus and enhanced transmission. Analysis of case movements early in the outbreak indicated that the total incubation period was as low as 9-11 days. This was supported by laboratory vector competence studies that found transmission by Aedes aegypti occurred within 5 days post exposure at 28°C. Effective vector competence rates calculated from these transmission studies indicate that early transmission contributed to the explosive dengue transmission observed in this outbreak. Collections from BG sentinel traps and double sticky ovitraps showed that large populations of the vector Ae. aegypti occurred in the transmission areas from November - December 2008. Finally, the seasonal movement of people around the Christmas holiday season enhanced the spread of DENV-3. These results suggest that a strain of DENV-3 with an unusually rapid transmission cycle was able to outpace vector control efforts, especially those reliant upon delayed action control such as lethal ovitraps. © 2013 Ritchie et al.


Ritchie S.A.,James Cook University | Ritchie S.A.,Cairns Population Health Unit | Paton C.,James Cook University | Townsend M.,James Cook University | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Medical Entomology | Year: 2013

Mosquitoes often are collected as part of an arbovirus surveillance program. However, trapping and processing of mosquitoes for arbovirus detection is often costly and difficult in remote areas. Most traps, such as the gold standard Center for Disease control light trap, require batteries that must be charged and changed overnight. To overcome this issue we have developed several passive traps for collection of mosquitoes that have no power requirements. The passive traps capture mosquitoes as they follow a CO2 plume up a polyvinyl chloride pipe leading to a clear chamber consisting of a plastic crate. We believe the translucent, clear windows created by the crate inhibits escape. Once inside the crate mosquitoes readily feed on honey-treated Flinders Technology Associates cards that then can be processed by polymerase chain reaction for viral ribonucleic acid. Of the two designs tested, the box or crate-based passive trap (passive box trap, PBT) generally caught more mosquitoes than the cylinder trap. In Latin square field trials in Cairns and Florida, PBTs collected mosquitoes at rates of 50 to 200% of Center for Disease Control model 512 light traps. Mosquito collections by PBTs can be increased by splitting the CO2 gas line so it services two traps, or by placing an octenol lure to the outside of the box. Very large collections can lead to crowding at honey-treated cards, reducing feeding rates. Addition of fipronil to the honey killed mosquitoes and did not impact feeding rates nor the ability to detect Kunjin viral ribonucleic acid by polymerase chain reaction; this could be used to minimize crowding affects on feeding caused by large collections. The passive traps we developed are made from inexpensive, commonly available materials. Passive traps may thus be suitable for collection of mosquitoes and potentially other hematophagous dipterans for pathogen surveillance. © 2013 Entomological Society of America.


Beebe N.W.,University of Queensland | Beebe N.W.,CSIRO | Ambrose L.,University of Queensland | Hill L.A.,Public Health Virology | And 7 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2013

Background:The range of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus is expanding globally, raising the threat of emerging and re-emerging arbovirus transmission risks including dengue and chikungunya. Its detection in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) southern Fly River coastal region in 1988 and 1992 placed it 150 km from mainland Australia. However, it was not until 12 years later that it appeared on the Torres Strait Islands. We hypothesized that the extant PNG population expanded into the Torres Straits as an indirect effect of drought-proofing the southern Fly River coastal villages in response to El Nino-driven climate variability in the region (via the rollout of rainwater tanks and water storage containers).Methodology/Principal Findings:Examination of the mosquito's mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequences and 13 novel nuclear microsatellites revealed evidence of substantial intermixing between PNG's southern Fly region and Torres Strait Island populations essentially compromising any island eradication attempts due to potential of reintroduction. However, two genetically distinct populations were identified in this region comprising the historically extant PNG populations and the exotic introduced population. Both COI sequence data and microsatellites showed the introduced population to have genetic affinities to populations from Timor Leste and Jakarta in the Indonesian region.Conclusions/Significance:The Ae. albopictus invasion into the Australian region was not a range expansion out of PNG as suspected, but founded by other, genetically distinct population(s), with strong genetic affinities to populations sampled from the Indonesian region. We now suspect that the introduction of Ae. albopictus into the Australian region was driven by widespread illegal fishing activity originating from the Indonesian region during this period. Human sea traffic is apparently shuttling this mosquito between islands in the Torres Strait and the southern PNG mainland and this extensive movement may well compromise Ae. albopictus eradication attempts in this region. © 2013 Beebe et al.


Frentiu F.D.,Monash University | Frentiu F.D.,Queensland University of Technology | Zakir T.,Monash University | Walker T.,Monash University | And 8 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2014

Introduction:Dengue is one of the most widespread mosquito-borne diseases in the world. The causative agent, dengue virus (DENV), is primarily transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, a species that has proved difficult to control using conventional methods. The discovery that A. aegypti transinfected with the wMel strain of Wolbachia showed limited DENV replication led to trial field releases of these mosquitoes in Cairns, Australia as a biocontrol strategy for the virus.Methodology/Principal Findings:Field collected wMel mosquitoes that were challenged with three DENV serotypes displayed limited rates of body infection, viral replication and dissemination to the head compared to uninfected controls. Rates of dengue infection, replication and dissemination in field wMel mosquitoes were similar to those observed in the original transinfected wMel line that had been maintained in the laboratory. We found that wMel was distributed in similar body tissues in field mosquitoes as in laboratory ones, but, at seven days following blood-feeding, wMel densities increased to a greater extent in field mosquitoes.Conclusions/Significance:Our results indicate that virus-blocking is likely to persist in Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes after their release and establishment in wild populations, suggesting that Wolbachia biocontrol may be a successful strategy for reducing dengue transmission in the field. © 2014 Frentiu et al.


PubMed | University of Western Australia, Public Health Virology, University of New South Wales, Curtin University Australia and CSIRO
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PLoS neglected tropical diseases | Year: 2015

Recent increased activity of the mosquito-borne Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) in Australia has renewed concerns regarding its potential to spread and cause disease.To better understand the genetic relationships between earlier and more recent circulating strains, patterns of virus movement, as well as the molecular basis of MVEV evolution, complete pre-membrane (prM) and Envelope (Env) genes were sequenced from sixty-six MVEV strains from different regions of the Australasian region, isolated over a sixty year period (1951-2011). Phylogenetic analyses indicated that, of the four recognized genotypes, only G1 and G2 are contemporary. G1 viruses were dominant over the sampling period and found across the known geographic range of MVEV. Two distinct sub-lineages of G1 were observed (1A and 1B). Although G1B strains have been isolated from across mainland Australia, Australian G1A strains have not been detected outside northwest Australia. Similarly, G2 is comprised of only Western Australian isolates from mosquitoes, suggesting G1B and G2 viruses have geographic or ecological restrictions. No evidence of recombination was found and a single amino acid substitution in the Env protein (S332G) was found to be under positive selection, while several others were found to be under directional evolution. Evolutionary analyses indicated that extant genotypes of MVEV began to diverge from a common ancestor approximately 200 years ago. G2 was the first genotype to diverge, followed by G3 and G4, and finally G1, from which subtypes G1A and G1B diverged between 1964 and 1994.The results of this study provides new insights into the genetic diversity and evolution of MVEV. The demonstration of co-circulation of all contemporary genetic lineages of MVEV in northwestern Australia, supports the contention that this region is the enzootic focus for this virus.


Nicholson J.,University of Queensland | Nicholson J.,University of Western Australia | Ritchie S.A.,James Cook University | Van Den Hurk A.F.,University of Queensland | Van Den Hurk A.F.,Public Health Virology
Journal of Medical Entomology | Year: 2014

In 2005, established populations of Aedes albopictus (Skuse) were discovered in the Torres Strait, the region that separates Papua New Guinea from northern Australia. This increased the potential for this species to be introduced to mainland Australia. Because it is an arbovirus vector elsewhere, we undertook laboratory-based infection and transmission experiments to determine the potential for Ae. albopictus from the Torres Strait to become infected with and transmit the four major Australian endemic arboviruses-Murray Valley encephalitis virus, West Nile virus Kunjin strain (WNVKUN), Ross River virus (RRV), and Barmah Forest virus-as well as the exotic Japanese encephalitis virus. Ae. albopictus is susceptible to infection with all viruses, with infection rates ranging between 8% for WNVKUN and 71% for RRV. Transmission rates of ≈25% were observed for RRV and Barmah Forest virus, but these were <17% for Murray Valley encephalitis virus, WNVKUN, and Japanese encephalitis virus. Given its relative vector competence for alphaviruses, we also examined the replication kinetics and extrinsic incubation periods required for transmission of RRV and Chikungunya virus. Despite lower body titers, more mosquitoes reared and maintained at 28°C became infected with and transmitted the virus than those reared and maintained at 22°C. The minimum time between Ae. albopictus consuming an infected bloodmeal and transmitting Chikungunya virus was 2 d at 28°C and 4 d at 22°C, and for RRV, it was 4 d, irrespective of the temperature. Given its opportunistic feeding habits and aggressive biting behavior, the establishment of Ae. albopictus on the Australian mainland could have a considerable impact on alphavirus transmission. © 2014 Entomological Society of America.


Goh L.Y.H.,University of Queensland | Hobson-Peters J.,University of Queensland | Prow N.A.,University of Queensland | Gardner J.,Queensland Institute of Medical Research | And 5 more authors.
Clinical Immunology | Year: 2013

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) recently caused the largest epidemic ever recorded for this virus involving an estimated 1.4-6.5. million cases, with imported cased reported in over 40 countries. The number of monoclonal antibodies specific for this re-emerging alphavirus is currently limited. Herein we describe the generation and characterisation of five monoclonal antibodies specific for the E2 glycoprotein of CHIKV. The antibodies detected a range of CHIKV isolates in several assays including ELISA, Western blot, immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) without evidence of cross-reactivity with other alphaviruses. Four antibodies also neutralised CHIKV in vitro, two of which provided complete protection against arthritis in a CHIKV mouse model when administered prior to infection. Given the current shortage of widely available reagents for CHIKV, these specific antibodies will be useful not only in research, but may also provide the basis for new diagnostics and treatments. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Smith I.,CSIRO | Smith I.,Public Health Virology | Broos A.,Public Health Virology | de Jong C.,Queensland Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases | And 12 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Hendra virus (HeV) causes a zoonotic disease with high mortality that is transmitted to humans from bats of the genus Pteropus (flying foxes) via an intermediary equine host. Factors promoting spillover from bats to horses are uncertain at this time, but plausibly encompass host and/or agent and/or environmental factors. There is a lack of HeV sequence information derived from the natural bat host, as previously sequences have only been obtained from horses or humans following spillover events. In order to obtain an insight into possible variants of HeV circulating in flying foxes, collection of urine was undertaken in multiple flying fox roosts in Queensland, Australia. HeV was found to be geographically widespread in flying foxes with a number of HeV variants circulating at the one time at multiple locations, while at times the same variant was found circulating at disparate locations. Sequence diversity within variants allowed differentiation on the basis of nucleotide changes, and hypervariable regions in the genome were identified that could be used to differentiate circulating variants. Further, during the study, HeV was isolated from the urine of flying foxes on four occasions from three different locations. The data indicates that spillover events do not correlate with particular HeV isolates, suggesting that host and/or environmental factors are the primary determinants of bat-horse spillover. Thus future spillover events are likely to occur, and there is an on-going need for effective risk management strategies for both human and animal health. © 2011 Smith et al.


PubMed | QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Public Health Virology and University of Queensland
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Viruses | Year: 2015

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an arthropod-borne agent that causes severe arthritic disease in humans and is considered a serious health threat in areas where competent mosquito vectors are prevalent. CHIKV has recently been responsible for several millions of cases of disease, involving over 40 countries. The recent re-emergence of CHIKV and its potential threat to human health has stimulated interest in better understanding of the biology and pathogenesis of the virus, and requirement for improved treatment, prevention and control measures. In this study, we mapped the binding sites of a panel of eleven monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) previously generated towards the capsid protein (CP) of CHIKV. Using N- and C-terminally truncated recombinant forms of the CHIKV CP, two putative binding regions, between residues 1-35 and 140-210, were identified. Competitive binding also revealed that five of the CP-specific mAbs recognized a series of overlapping epitopes in the latter domain. We also identified a smaller, N-terminally truncated product of native CP that may represent an alternative translation product of the CHIKV 26S RNA and have potential functional significance during CHIKV replication. Our data also provides evidence that the C-terminus of CP is required for authentic antigenic structure of CP. This study shows that these anti-CP mAbs will be valuable research tools for further investigating the structure and function of the CHIKV CP.

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