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Epidemiology of parecho- and enterovirus

Human parechoviruses (HPeV) belong to the family Picornaviridae (also including enteroviruses) and are positive-strand RNA viruses with a genome of approximately 7,200 bp. Human parechoviruses have a worldwide distribution and are associated with gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infection. In general, illness is clinically mild but severe cases of neonatal sepsis and encephalitis/meningitis have been described.

To date, 19 different HPeV types are known and the majority have been only recently described. Historically, they have been infrequently recognized mainly because of their nature of infection and insensitive diagnostic methods. The advent of PCR technology has contributed much to our understanding of HPeV infections although still little is known about the epidemiology and relevance of the recently described HPeV types.

We aim to investigate the epidemiology and clinical impact of HPeV infections in children. Recently, we investigated an upsurge of HPeV A3 infections in Freiburg (Figure). Typing of HPeV is accomplished by sequencing fragments of the genome of positive HPeV samples. In addition, we aim to characterize HPeV using classical tools like virus isolation in cell culture and virus neutralization assays. Further, we are involved in ongoing and international studies on the epidemiology of enterovirus infections.

 

Selected publications from our group:

  1. Midgley SE, Benschop K, Dyrdak R, Mirand A, Bailly JL, Bierbaum S, Buderus S, Bottcher S, Eis-Hubinger AM, Honemann M, Jensen VV, Hartling UB, Henquell C, Panning M, Thomsen MK, Hodcroft EB, Meijer A. Co-circulation of multiple enterovirus D68 subclades, including a novel B3 cluster, across Europe in a season of expected low prevalence, 2019/20. Euro Surveill 2020;25.
  2. Elling R, Bottcher S, du Bois F, Muller A, Prifert C, Weissbrich B, Hofmann J, Korn K, Eis-Hubinger AM, Hufnagel M, Panning M. (2019) Epidemiology of Human Parechovirus Type 3 Upsurge in 2 Hospitals, Freiburg, Germany, 2018. Emerg Infect Dis 25:1384-8.
  3. Graul S, Bottcher S, Eibach D, Krumkamp R, Kasmaier J, Adu-Sarkodie Y, May J, Tannich E, Panning M. (2017). High diversity of human parechovirus including novel types in stool samples from Ghanaian children. J Clin Virol 96:116-119.

 

Collaboration:

  • Center for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine/Center for Chronic Immunodeficiency, Freiburg
  • National Reference Center for Polio- and Enteroviruses, Robert-Koch-Institute, Berlin

Figure 1: Number of human parechovirus (HPeV) cases in infants and young children by month, Freiburg, Germany, 2016–2018. (Elling et al., Emerg Infect Dis 2019)

Figure 2: Variation of enterovirus D68 detections in European countries, 2007 – 2020. (Midgley et al., Eurosurveillance 2020)


 

Head:
Prof. Dr. med. Hartmut Hengel
hartmut.hengel@uniklinik-freiburg.de

 

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