“Our first pilot study using UK sewage samples showed that we could detect enteroviruses, including polioviruses, even when present at very low levels.”

“Because this technique provides whole capsid genome-level information we can also use it to better understand when different strains of specific enterovirus serotypes arose and where, so we can track virus transmission”

And for a recent publication the group expanded the use of the technique to compare samples collected from the UK with developing countries Senegal and Pakistan.

“We were able to detect multiple enteroviruses within these samples, some that were already known to us but also other new emerging strains rarely detected elsewhere and seen for the first time in these countries.”

“In this study we also saw similarities between the viruses found in environmental samples with clinical samples collected from similar locations around the same time.”

“This new technology allows us to obtain a wealth of information about the complex circulation patterns of these viruses and keeps us one step ahead of emerging pathogens.”

This new technology allows us
to obtain a wealth of information about the complex circulation patterns of these viruses and keeps us one step ahead of emerging pathogens.”

Dr Javier Martin, Principal Scientist at NIBSC

“A recent example relates to an upsurge of polio-like cases of acute flaccid paralysis with possible association with infection with non-polio enteroviruses such as EV-D68 recently reported in the UK following similar reports in the USA. Concurrently, we detected the presence of EV-D68 strains that match those from clinical cases very closely in terms of time of detection and genetic signature."

Poliovirus is the most well-known enterovirus and causes the highly infectious disease poliomyelitis (polio) that can result in paralysis. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, has brought polio to the brink of extinction but there are still areas where polio virus transmission occurs.

In recent years, other non-polio enteroviruses have also become more prevalent and associated outbreaks of aseptic meningitis, conjunctivitis, severe respiratory illnesses being reported in several countries across Europe.

The team at NIBSC responsible for this work includes Manasi Majumdar, Dimitra Klapsa, Thomas Wilton, Yara Hajarha and Javier Martin who collaborate with scientists from organizations across the world. Support from the NGS team at NIBSC, led by Martin Fritzsche, has also been critical to achieve these results.

Recent Publications from the group

  1. Environmental Surveillance Reveals Complex Enterovirus Circulation Patterns in Human Populations. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2018 Oct 1;5(10):ofy250. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofy250
  2. Detection by Direct Next Generation Sequencing Analysis of Emerging Enterovirus D68 and C109 Strains in an Environmental Sample From Scotland. Front Microbiol. 2018 Aug 21;9:1956. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01956
  3. Identification and whole-genome characterization of a recombinant Enterovirus B69 isolated from a patient with Acute Flaccid Paralysis in Niger, 2015. Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 1;8(1):2181. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-20346-9 
  4. Genetic Characterization of Enterovirus A71 Circulating in Africa. Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Apr;24(4):754-757. doi: 10.3201/eid2404.171783
  5. Isolation of Vaccine-Like Poliovirus Strains in Sewage Samples From the United Kingdom. J Infect Dis. 2018 Mar 28;217(8):1222-1230. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix667 
  6. Emergence of Vaccine-Derived Polioviruses during Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak, Guinea, 2014-2015. Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Jan;24(1):65-74. doi: 10.3201/eid2401.171174