Monitoring of Lassa virus infection in suspected and confirmed cases in Ondo State, Nigeria
ABSTRACT: Introduction Lassa virus (LASV), the causative agent of Lassa fever (LF), an endemic acute viral haemorrhagic illness in Nigeria, is transmitted by direct contact with the rodent, contaminated food or household items. Person-to-person transmission also occurs and sexual transmission has been reported. Thus, this study investigated the presence of LASV in body fluids of suspected and confirmed cases. Methods this was a cross-sectional study between March 2018 and April 2019 involving 112 consenting suspected and post ribavirin confirmed cases attending the Lassa fever treatment center in Ondo State. Whole blood was collected from 57 suspected and 29 confirmed cases. Other samples from confirmed cases were 5 each of High Vaginal Swab (HVS) and seminal fluid; 12 breast milk and 4 urine. All samples were analyzed using reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) targeting the S-gene of LASV. Results analysis of whole blood by RT-PCR showed that 1/57 (1.8%) suspected and 1/29 (3.4%) confirmed post ribavirin treated cases were positive. While LASV was detected in 2/5 (40%) post ribavirin treated seminal fluids and 1/11 (8.3%) breast milk. However, LASV was not detected in any of the HVS and urine samples. Conclusion the detection of LASV in seminal fluid and breast milk of discharged post ribavirin treated cases suggests its persistence in these fluids of recovering Nigerians. The role of postnatal and sexual transmissions in the perennial outbreak of LF needs to be further evaluated.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Lassa fever (LF), an often-fatal hemorrhagic disease caused by Lassa virus (LASV), is a major public health threat in West Africa. When the violent civil conflict in Sierra Leone (1991 to 2002) ended, an international consortium assisted in restoration of the LF program at Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in an area with the world's highest incidence of the disease. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Clinical and laboratory records of patients presenting to the KGH Lassa Ward in the post-conflict period were organized electronically. Recombinant antigen-based LF immunoassays were used to assess LASV antigenemia and LASV-specific antibodies in patients who met criteria for suspected LF. KGH has been reestablished as a center for LF treatment and research, with over 500 suspected cases now presenting yearly. Higher case fatality rates (CFRs) in LF patients were observed compared to studies conducted prior to the civil conflict. Different criteria for defining LF stages and differences in sensitivity of assays likely account for these differences. The highest incidence of LF in Sierra Leone was observed during the dry season. LF cases were observed in ten of Sierra Leone's thirteen districts, with numerous cases from outside the traditional endemic zone. Deaths in patients presenting with LASV antigenemia were skewed towards individuals less than 29 years of age. Women self-reporting as pregnant were significantly overrepresented among LASV antigenemic patients. The CFR of ribavirin-treated patients presenting early in acute infection was lower than in untreated subjects. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Lassa fever remains a major public health threat in Sierra Leone. Outreach activities should expand because LF may be more widespread in Sierra Leone than previously recognized. Enhanced case finding to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment is imperative to reduce mortality. Even with ribavirin treatment, there was a high rate of fatalities underscoring the need to develop more effective and/or supplemental treatments for LF.
Project description:With up to 500,000 infections annually, Lassa virus (LASV), the cause of Lassa fever, is one of the most prevalent etiological agents of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) in humans. LASV is endemic in several West African countries with sporadic cases and prolonged outbreaks observed most commonly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. Additionally several cases of Lassa fever have been imported into North America, Europe and Asia making LASV a global threat to public health. Despite this, currently no approved therapeutic or vaccine exists to treat or prevent LASV infections. Here, using a passaged strain of LASV that is uniformly lethal in Hartley guinea pigs, we demonstrate that favipiravir, a broad-spectrum antiviral agent and leading treatment option for influenza, has potent activity against LASV infection. In this model, once daily treatment with favipiravir significantly reduced viral titers in tissue samples and reduced mortality rates when compared with animals receiving vehicle-only or ribavirin, the current standard of care for Lassa fever. Favipiravir remained highly effective against lethal LASV infection when treatments were initiated nine days post-infection, a time when animals were demonstrating advanced signs of disease. These results support the further preclinical evaluation of favipiravir for Lassa fever and other VHFs.
Project description:Lassa virus (LASV) is endemic in Western Africa and is estimated to infect hundreds of thousands of individuals annually. A considerable number of these infections result in Lassa fever (LF), which is associated with significant morbidity and a case-fatality rate as high as 69% among hospitalized confirmed patients. U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved LF vaccines are not available. Current antiviral treatment is limited to off-label use of a nucleoside analogue, ribavirin, that is only partially effective and associated with significant side effects. We generated and characterized a recombinant LASV expressing a codon-deoptimized (CD) glycoprotein precursor gene (GPC), rLASV-GPC/CD. Comparison of growth kinetics and peak titers showed that rLASV-GPC/CD is slightly attenuated in cell culture compared to wild-type (WT) recombinant LASV (rLASV-WT). However, rLASV-GPC/CD is highly attenuated in strain 13 and Hartley guinea pigs, as reflected by the absence of detectable clinical signs in animals inoculated with rLASV-GPC/CD. Importantly, a single subcutaneous dose of rLASV-GPC/CD provides complete protection against an otherwise lethal exposure to LASV. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of implementing a CD approach for developing a safe and effective LASV live-attenuated vaccine candidate. Moreover, rLASV-GPC/CD might provide investigators with a tool to safely study LASV outside maximum (biosafety level 4) containment, which could accelerate the elucidation of basic aspects of the molecular and cell biology of LASV and the development of novel LASV medical countermeasures.IMPORTANCE Lassa virus (LASV) infects several hundred thousand people in Western Africa, resulting in many lethal Lassa fever (LF) cases. Licensed LF vaccines are not available, and anti-LF therapy is limited to off-label use of the nucleoside analog ribavirin with uncertain efficacy. We describe the generation of a novel live-attenuated LASV vaccine candidate. This vaccine candidate is based on mutating wild-type (WT) LASV in a key region of the viral genome, the glycoprotein precursor (GPC) gene. These mutations do not change the encoded GPC but interfere with its production in host cells. This mutated LASV (rLASV-GPC/CD) behaves like WT LASV (rLASV-WT) in cell culture, but in contrast to rLASV-WT, does not cause disease in inoculated guinea pigs. Guinea pigs immunized with rLASV-GPC/CD were protected against an otherwise lethal exposure to WT LASV. Our results support the testing of this candidate vaccine in nonhuman primate models ofLF.
Project description:Lassa virus (LASV) poses a significant public health problem within the regions of Lassa fever endemicity in Western Africa. LASV infects several hundred thousand individuals yearly, and a considerable number of Lassa fever cases are associated with high morbidity and lethality. No approved LASV vaccine is available, and current therapy is limited to an off-label usage of ribavirin that is only partially effective and associated with significant side effects. The impact of Lassa fever on human health, together with the limited existing countermeasures, highlights the importance of developing effective vaccines against LASV. Here, we present the development and characterization of a recombinant LASV (rLASV) vaccine candidate [rLASV(IGR/S-S)], which is based on the presence of the noncoding intergenic region (IGR) of the small (S) genome segment (S-IGR) in both large (L) and S LASV segments. In cultured cells, rLASV(IGR/S-S) was modestly less fit than wild-type rLASV (rLASV-WT). rLASV(IGR/S-S) was highly attenuated in guinea pigs, and a single subcutaneous low dose of the virus completely protected against otherwise lethal infection with LASV-WT. Moreover, rLASV(IGR/S-S) was genetically stable during serial passages in cultured cells. These findings indicate that rLASV(IGR/S-S) can be developed into a LASV live-attenuated vaccine (LAV) that has the same antigenic composition as LASV-WT and a well-defined mechanism of attenuation that overcomes concerns about increased virulence that could be caused by genetic changes in the LAV during multiple rounds of multiplication.IMPORTANCE Lassa virus (LASV), the causative agent of Lassa fever, infects several hundred thousand people in Western Africa, resulting in many lethal Lassa fever cases. No U.S. Food and Drug Administration-licensed countermeasures are available to prevent or treat LASV infection. We describe the generation of a novel LASV live-attenuated vaccine candidate rLASV(IGR/S-S), which is based on the replacement of the large genomic segment noncoding intergenic region (IGR) with that of the small genome segment. rLASV(IGR/S-S) is less fit in cell culture than wild-type virus and does not cause clinical signs in inoculated guinea pigs. Importantly, rLASV(IGR/S-S) protects immunized guinea pigs against an otherwise lethal exposure to LASV.
Project description:Lassa fever (LF) is a devastating hemorrhagic viral disease that is endemic to West Africa and responsible for thousands of human deaths each year. Analysis of humoral immune responses (IgM and IgG) by antibody-capture ELISA (Ab-capture ELISA) and Lassa virus (LASV) viremia by antigen-capture ELISA (Ag-capture ELISA) in suspected patients admitted to the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) Lassa Fever Ward (LFW) in Sierra Leone over the past five years is reshaping our understanding of acute LF.Analyses in LF survivors indicated that LASV-specific IgM persists for months to years after initial infection. Furthermore, exposure to LASV appeared to be more prevalent in historically non-endemic areas of West Africa with significant percentages of reportedly healthy donors IgM and IgG positive in LASV-specific Ab-capture ELISA. We found that LF patients who were Ag positive were more likely to die than suspected cases who were only IgM positive. Analysis of metabolic and immunological parameters in Ag positive LF patients revealed a strong correlation between survival and low levels of IL-6, -8, -10, CD40L, BUN, ALP, ALT, and AST. Despite presenting to the hospital with fever and in some instances other symptoms consistent with LF, the profiles of Ag negative IgM positive individuals were similar to those of normal donors and nonfatal (NF) LF cases, suggesting that IgM status cannot necessarily be considered a diagnostic marker of acute LF in suspected cases living in endemic areas of West Africa.Only LASV viremia assessed by Ag-capture immunoassay, nucleic acid detection or virus isolation should be used to diagnose acute LASV infection in West Africans. LASV-specific IgM serostatus cannot be considered a diagnostic marker of acute LF in suspected cases living in endemic areas of West Africa. By applying these criteria, we identified a dysregulated metabolic and pro-inflammatory response profile conferring a poor prognosis in acute LF. In addition to suggesting that the current diagnostic paradigm for acute LF should be reconsidered, these studies present new opportunities for therapeutic interventions based on potential prognostic markers in LF.
Project description:Lassa fever (LF) is a devastating viral disease prevalent in West Africa. Efforts to take on this public health crisis have been hindered by lack of infrastructure and rapid field deployable diagnosis in areas where the disease is prevalent. Recent capacity building at the Kenema Government Hospital Lassa Fever Ward (KGH LFW) in Sierra Leone has lead to a major turning point in the diagnosis, treatment and study of LF. Herein we present the first comprehensive rapid diagnosis and real time characterization of an acute hemorrhagic LF case at KGH LFW. This case report focuses on a third trimester pregnant Sierra Leonean woman from the historically non-endemic Northern district of Tonkolili who survived the illness despite fetal demise. Employed in this study were newly developed recombinant LASV Antigen Rapid Test cassettes and dipstick lateral flow immunoassays (LFI) that enabled the diagnosis of LF within twenty minutes of sample collection. Deregulation of overall homeostasis, significant hepatic and renal system involvement, and immunity profiles were extensively characterized during the course of hospitalization. Rapid diagnosis, prompt treatment with a full course of intravenous (IV) ribavirin, IV fluids management, and real time monitoring of clinical parameters resulted in a positive maternal outcome despite admission to the LFW seven days post onset of symptoms, fetal demise, and a natural still birth delivery. These studies solidify the growing rapid diagnostic, treatment, and surveillance capabilities at the KGH LF Laboratory, and the potential to significantly improve the current high mortality rate caused by LF. As a result of the growing capacity, we were also able to isolate Lassa virus (LASV) RNA from the patient and perform Sanger sequencing where we found significant genetic divergence from commonly circulating Sierra Leonean strains, showing potential for the discovery of a newly emerged LASV strain with expanded geographic distribution. Furthermore, recent emergence of LF cases in Northern Sierra Leone highlights the need for superior diagnostics to aid in the monitoring of LASV strain divergence with potentially increased geographic expansion.
Project description:Lassa virus (LASV) is a hemorrhagic fever virus of the Arenaviridae family with high rates of mortality and co-morbidities, including chronic seizures and permanent bilateral or unilateral deafness. LASV is endemic in West Africa and Lassa fever accounts for 10-16% of hospitalizations annually in parts of Sierra Leone and Liberia according to the CDC. An ongoing outbreak in Nigeria has resulted in 144 deaths in 568 cases confirmed as LASV as of November 2018, with many more suspected, highlighting the urgent need for a vaccine to prevent this severe disease. We previously reported on a DNA vaccine encoding a codon-optimized LASV glycoprotein precursor gene, pLASV-GPC, which completely protects Guinea pigs and nonhuman primates (NHPs) against viremia, clinical disease, and death following lethal LASV challenge. Herein we report on the immunogenicity profile of the LASV DNA vaccine in protected NHPs. Antigen-specific binding antibodies were generated in 100% (6/6) NHPs after two immunizations with pLASV-GPC. These antibodies bound predominantly to the assembled LASV glycoprotein complex and had robust neutralizing activity in a pseudovirus assay. pLASV-GPC DNA-immunized NHPs (5/6) also developed T cell responses as measured by IFN? ELISpot assay. These results revealed that the pLASV-GPC DNA vaccine is capable of generating functional, LASV-specific T cell and antibody responses, and the assays developed in this study will provide a framework to identify correlates of protection and characterize immune responses in future clinical trials.
Project description:The mammarenavirus Lassa (LASV) is highly prevalent in West Africa where it infects several hundred thousand individuals annually resulting in a high number of Lassa fever (LF) cases, a febrile disease associated with high morbidity and significant mortality. Mounting evidence indicates that the worldwide-distributed prototypic mammarenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is a neglected human pathogen of clinical significance. There are not Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed vaccines and current anti-mammarenavirus therapy is limited to an off-label use of ribavirin that is only partially effective and can cause significant side effects. Therefore, there is an unmet need for novel antiviral drugs to combat LASV. This task would be facilitated by the implementation of high throughput screens (HTS) to identify inhibitors of the activity of the virus ribonucleoprotein (vRNP) responsible for directing virus RNA genome replication and gene transcription. The use of live LASV for this purpose is jeopardized by the requirement of biosafety level 4 (BSL4) containment. We have developed a virus-free cell platform, where expression levels of reporter genes serve as accurate surrogates of vRNP activity, to develop cell-based assays compatible with HTS to identify inhibitors of LASV and LCMV mammarenavirus vRNP activities.
Project description:Lassa fever is an acute viral illness characterized by multi-organ failure and hemorrhagic manifestations. Lassa fever is most frequently diagnosed in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, although sporadic cases have been recorded in other West African countries, including Mali. The etiological agent of Lassa fever is Lassa virus (LASV), an Arenavirus which is maintained in nature and frequently transmitted to humans by Mastomys natalensis. The purpose of this study was to better define the geographic distribution of LASV-infected rodents in sub-Saharan Mali.Small mammals were live-trapped at various locations across Mali for the purpose of identifying potential zoonotic pathogens. Serological and molecular assays were employed and determined LASV infected rodents were exclusively found in the southern Mali near the border of Côte d'Ivoire. Overall, 19.4% of Mastomys natalensis sampled in this region had evidence of LASV infection, with prevalence rates for individual villages ranging from 0 to 52%. Full-length genomic sequences were determined using high throughput sequencing methodologies for LASV isolates generated from tissue samples of rodents collected in four villages and confirmed the phylogenetic clustering of Malian LASV with strain AV.The risk of human infections with LASV is greatest in villages in southern Mali. Lassa fever should be considered in the differential diagnosis for febrile individuals and appropriate diagnostic techniques need to be established to determine the incidence of infection and disease in these regions.
Project description:Lassa fever (LF) is a severe viral hemorrhagic fever caused by Lassa virus (LASV). The LF program at the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in Eastern Sierra Leone currently provides diagnostic services and clinical care for more than 500 suspected LF cases per year. Nearly two-thirds of suspected LF patients presenting to the LF Ward test negative for either LASV antigen or anti-LASV immunoglobulin M (IgM), and therefore are considered to have a non-Lassa febrile illness (NLFI). The NLFI patients in this study were generally severely ill, which accounts for their high case fatality rate of 36%. The current studies were aimed at determining possible causes of severe febrile illnesses in non-LF cases presenting to the KGH, including possible involvement of filoviruses. A seroprevalence survey employing commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay tests revealed significant IgM and IgG reactivity against dengue virus, chikungunya virus, West Nile virus (WNV), Leptospira, and typhus. A polymerase chain reaction-based survey using sera from subjects with acute LF, evidence of prior LASV exposure, or NLFI revealed widespread infection with Plasmodium falciparum malaria in febrile patients. WNV RNA was detected in a subset of patients, and a 419 nt amplicon specific to filoviral L segment RNA was detected at low levels in a single patient. However, 22% of the patients presenting at the KGH between 2011 and 2014 who were included in this survey registered anti-Ebola virus (EBOV) IgG or IgM, suggesting prior exposure to this agent. The 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak is already the deadliest and most widely dispersed outbreak of its kind on record. Serological evidence reported here for possible human exposure to filoviruses in Sierra Leone prior to the current EVD outbreak supports genetic analysis that EBOV may have been present in West Africa for some time prior to the 2014 outbreak.