Publications by authors named "Sandra Gewehr"

9 Publications

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West Nile fever upsurge in a Greek regional unit, 2020.

Acta Trop 2021 Sep 12;221:106010. Epub 2021 Jun 12.

Ecodevelopment SA, Thessaloniki, Greece.

During the 2020 West Nile virus (WNV) transmission season, Greece was the most affected EU Member State. More than one third of human cases occurred in Serres regional unit in northern Greece, which is characterized by the presence of a major wetland (Kerkini lake and Strimon river). A total of 2809 Culex pipiens mosquitoes collected in Serres were grouped into 70 pools and tested for WNV. Ten (14.3%) pools were found positive, and all WNV sequences belonged to the Central European subclade of WNV lineage 2. The first human case occurred in a village nearby the lake, and all following cases occurred across the connected river and its tributaries. Similar distribution presented the sites where WNV-positive mosquitoes were detected. The number of Culex spp. mosquitoes per trap per night was higher in 2020 than in previous years (2017-2019). The spatial and temporal distribution of human cases and WNV-positive mosquitoes in 2020 in Serres regional unit suggest that the upsurge of the virus circulation was probably related with factors that affected the ecosystem of the wetland.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2021.106010DOI Listing
September 2021

West Nile virus lineage 2 in Culex mosquitoes in Thessaly, Greece, 2019.

Acta Trop 2020 May 15;208:105514. Epub 2020 May 15.

EcoDevelopment SA, Thessaloniki, Greece.

West Nile virus is a flavivirus transmitted to humans mainly by mosquito bites. Outbreaks are observed in several European countries, and Greece is one of the most affected countries during the recent years. Thessaly was one of the most affected regions in Greece in 2019. A total of 3,025 Culex spp. mosquitoes collected in Thessaly were grouped into 47 pools and tested for West Nile virus (WNV). Eight (17%) pools were found positive. Whole genome sequences were obtained from two positive pools. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the causative strain was an evolutionary variant of the strains circulating in 2018 belonging to the Balkan subgroup of the Central European subclade of WNV lineage 2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2020.105514DOI Listing
May 2020

Prediction of Antioxidant Activity of Cherry Fruits from UAS Multispectral Imagery Using Machine Learning.

Antioxidants (Basel) 2020 Feb 14;9(2). Epub 2020 Feb 14.

Ecodevelopment S.A., Environmental Applications, 57010 Thessaloniki, Greece.

In this research, a model for the estimation of antioxidant content in cherry fruits from multispectral imagery acquired from drones was developed, based on machine learning methods. For two consecutive cultivation years, the trees were sampled on different dates and then analysed for their fruits' radical scavenging activity (DPPH) and Folin-Ciocalteu (FCR) reducing capacity. Multispectral images from unmanned aerial vehicles were acquired on the same dates with fruit sampling. Soil samples were collected throughout the study fields at the end of the season. Topographic, hydrographic and weather data also were included in modelling. First-year data were used for model-fitting, whereas second-year data for testing. Spatial autocorrelation tests indicated unbiased sampling and, moreover, allowed restriction of modelling input parameters to a smaller group. The optimum model employs 24 input variables resulting in a 6.74 root mean square error. Provided that soil profiles and other ancillary data are known in advance of the cultivation season, capturing drone images in critical growth phases, together with contemporary weather data, can support site- and time-specific harvesting. It could also support site-specific treatments (precision farming) for improving fruit quality in the long-term, with analogous marketing perspectives.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/antiox9020156DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7070805PMC
February 2020

Detection of flaviviruses and alphaviruses in mosquitoes in Central Macedonia, Greece, 2018.

Acta Trop 2020 Feb 20;202:105278. Epub 2019 Nov 20.

EcoDevelopment SA, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Culex mosquitoes are vectors of several flaviviruses and alphaviruses posing a potential risk to public and veterinary health. In order to gain an insight into the flaviviruses and alphaviruses circulating in the five regional units of Central Macedonia in northern Greece, 17,470 female Culex spp. mosquitoes collected during 2018 were tested for these viruses. Among 229 mosquito pools, West Nile virus (WNV) was detected in 10 (4.4%) pools, while insect-specific flavi- and alphaviruses were detected in 2 (0.9%) and 8 (3.5%) pools, respectively. WNV minimum infection rate (MIR) was 0.57. The highest MIR was identified in Thessaloniki regional unit, where several human cases of WNV infection occurred in 2018. All ten WNV sequences cluster into the Central European subclade of lineage 2. It is of note that the first WNV-positive mosquito pool was detected two weeks prior the report of the first human case in the area, suggesting that testing of mosquitoes could serve as early warning system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2019.105278DOI Listing
February 2020

Detection of West Nile Virus - Lineage 2 in Culex pipiens mosquitoes, associated with disease outbreak in Greece, 2017.

Acta Trop 2018 Jun 21;182:64-68. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Heraklion, 70013, Greece; Pesticide Science Laboratory, Department of Crop Science, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855, Athens, Greece.

During July-October 2017 a WNV outbreak took place in the Peloponnese, Southern Greece with five confirmed deaths. During routine monitoring survey in the Peloponnese, supported by the local Prefecture, we have confirmed the presence of all three Culex pipiens biotypes in the region, with a high percentage of Culex pipiens/molestus hybrids (37.0%) which are considered a highly competent vector of WNV. Kdr mutations related to pyrethroid resistance were found at relatively low levels (14.3% homozygosity) while no mosquitoes harboring the recently identified chitin synthase diflubenzuron-resistance mutations were detected in the region. As an immediate action, following the disease outbreak (within days), we collected a large number of mosquitoes using CO CDC traps from the villages in the Argolis area of the Peloponnese, where high incidence of WNV human infections were reported. WNV lineage 2 was detected in 3 out of 47 Cx. pipiens mosquito pools (detection rate = 6.38%). The virus was not detected in any other mosquito species, such as Aedes albopictus, sampled from the region at the time of the disease outbreak. Our results show that detection of WNV lineage 2 in Cx. pipiens pools is spatially and chronologically associated with human clinical cases, thus implicating Cx. pipiens mosquitoes as the most likely WNV vector. The absence of diflubenzuron resistance mutations and the low frequency of pyrethroid (kdr) resistance mutations indicates the suitability of these insecticides for Cx. pipiens control, in the format of larvicides and/or residual spraying applications respectively, which was indeed the main (evidence based) response, following the disease outbreak.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2018.02.024DOI Listing
June 2018

Identification of Climatic Factors Affecting the Epidemiology of Human West Nile Virus Infections in Northern Greece.

PLoS One 2016 15;11(9):e0161510. Epub 2016 Sep 15.

Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.

Climate can affect the geographic and seasonal patterns of vector-borne disease incidence such as West Nile Virus (WNV) infections. We explore the association between climatic factors and the occurrence of West Nile fever (WNF) or West Nile neuro-invasive disease (WNND) in humans in Northern Greece over the years 2010-2014. Time series over a period of 30 years (1979-2008) of climatic data of air temperature, relative humidity, soil temperature, volumetric soil water content, wind speed, and precipitation representing average climate were obtained utilising the ECMWF's (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) system allowing for a homogeneous set of data in time and space. We analysed data of reported human cases of WNF/WNND and Culex mosquitoes in Northern Greece. Quantitative assessment resulted in identifying associations between the above climatic variables and reported human cases of WNF/WNND. A substantial fraction of the cases was linked to the upper percentiles of the distribution of air and soil temperature for the period 1979-2008 and the lower percentiles of relative humidity and soil water content. A statistically relevant relationship between the mean weekly value climatic anomalies of wind speed (negative association), relative humidity (negative association) and air temperature (positive association) over 30 years, and reported human cases of WNF/WNND during the period 2010-2014 could be shown. A negative association between the presence of WNV infected Culex mosquitoes and wind speed could be identified. The statistically significant associations could also be confirmed for the week the WNF/WNND human cases appear and when a time lag of up to three weeks was considered. Similar statistically significant associations were identified with the weekly anomalies of the maximum and minimum values of the above climatic factors. Utilising the ERA-Interim re-analysis methodology it could be shown that besides air temperature, climatic factors such as soil temperature, relative humidity, soil water content and wind speed may affect the epidemiology of WNV.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161510PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025206PMC
August 2017

Serological monitoring of backyard chickens in Central Macedonia-Greece can detect low transmission of West Nile virus in the absence of human neuroinvasive disease cases.

Acta Trop 2016 Nov 25;163:26-31. Epub 2016 Jul 25.

Diagnostic Laboratory, Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 11 Stavrou Voutyra Str., 54627 Thessaloniki, Greece. Electronic address:

During 2010-13, West Nile virus (WNV) epidemics occurred in Greece with high numbers of human cases. In parallel, WNV serological surveillance utilizing domestic birds was applied mainly in Central Macedonia, as well as in other areas of the country, and allowed efficient detection of WNV activity during this period. The objective of the study was to evaluate the sensitivity of chicken-based WNV surveillance in periods of low-level virus transmission (2014-15) in a well-studied area, i.e. the epicenter of the 2010 WNV epidemic (Central Macedonia), which is considered endemic since then. WNV activity was monitored via determination of antiviral immune responses in juvenile backyard chickens. The birds were sampled twice per transmission period. WNV-specific antibodies were detected by ELISA in 2.8% out of 255 chickens sampled early in the 2014 transmission period (95% CI: 1-6%). Continued virus transmission was detected at the end of the period, as 4.2% out of 240 sampled chickens seroconverted to WNV (95% CI: 2-8%). Although 14 human neuroinvasive cases occurred in Greece during 2014, no such cases were reported in the study area. During the 2015 early warning period, antibodies against WNV were not detected in sampled chickens (n=250, 95% CI: 0-2%). However, humoral immune responses were detected in 6 out of 240 chicken sampled at the end of the transmission period (2.5%; 95% CI: 1-6%), indicating continued WNV activity. No human cases were reported in Greece during 2015. All samples were negative with real-time RT-PCR. Serological surveillance of chickens resulted in identification of areas with low WNV activity levels during 2014-15, and provided indications of its overwintering in Central Macedonia. The findings suggest that surveillance based on serological testing of domestic birds is sensitive and able to detect low-level of WNV enzootic transmission, in the absence of human cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2016.07.018DOI Listing
November 2016

Evaluation of a West Nile virus surveillance and early warning system in Greece, based on domestic pigeons.

Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis 2014 Mar 16;37(2):131-41. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

Laboratory of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University Campus, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece.

In the summer of 2010 an epidemic of West Nile virus (WNV) occurred in Central Macedonia, Greece, with 197 human neuroinvasive disease (WNND) cases. In the following years the virus spread to new areas, with a total of 76 WNND cases in 2011, and 109 WNND cases in 2012 (14 and 12 WNND cases, respectively, in Central Macedonia). We established a surveillance system based on serological testing of domestic pigeons, using cELISA confirmed by serum neutralization test. In Central Macedonia, pigeon seroprevalence was 54% (95% CI: 49-59%) and 31% (95% CI: 24-37%) at the end of the 2010 and 2011 epidemic seasons, respectively. One serum was positive for neutralizing antibodies directed against Usutu virus. Pigeon WNV seroprevalence and incidence rates of human WNND after the 2010 epidemic were positively correlated (ρ=0.94, at the regional unit level), while in 2011 the correlation (ρ=0.56) was not statistically significant, possibly due to small number of human WNND cases recorded. To evaluate the efficacy of the system at alerting upon WNV enzootic circulation before the onset of human cases, we tested 270 pigeons in 2011 and 240 pigeons in 2012. In Central Macedonia, the first seroconversions in pigeons were recorded 44 and 47 days, respectively, before the first human WNND cases. Pigeon surveillance was used successfully for identification of areas with WNV enzootic transmission and for early warning. Timely diffusion of information to health authorities facilitated the implementation of preparedness plans to protect public health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cimid.2014.01.004DOI Listing
March 2014

Population seroprevalence study after a West Nile virus lineage 2 epidemic, Greece, 2010.

PLoS One 2013 18;8(11):e80432. Epub 2013 Nov 18.

European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Stockholm, Sweden ; Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands.

Introduction: During summer 2010, 262 human cases including 35 deaths from West Nile virus (WNV) infection were reported from Central Macedonia, Greece. Evidence from mosquitoes, birds and blood donors demonstrated that the epidemic was caused by WNV lineage 2, which until recently was considered of low virulence. We conducted a household seroprevalence study to estimate the spread of infection in the population during the epidemic, ascertain the relationship of infection to clinical disease, and identify risk factors for infection.

Methods: We used a two-stage cluster design to select a random sample of residents aged ≥18 years in the outbreak epicentre. We collected demographic, medical, and risk factor data using standard questionnaires and environmental checklists, and tested serum samples for presence of WNV IgG and IgM antibodies using ELISA.

Results: Overall, 723 individuals participated in the study, and 644 blood samples were available. Weighted seropositivity for IgG antibodies was 5.8% (95% CI: 3.8-8.6; n=41). We estimated that about 1 in 130 (1:141 to 1:124) infected individuals developed WNV neuroinvasive disease, and approximately 18% had clinical manifestations attributable to their infection. Risk factors for infection reflected high exposure to mosquitoes; rural residents were particularly at risk (prevalence ratio: 8.2, 95% CI: 1.1-58.7).

Discussion: This study adds to the evidence that WNV lineage 2 strains can cause significant illness, demonstrating ratios of infection to clinical disease similar to those found previously for WNV lineage 1.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0080432PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832368PMC
July 2014
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