Prevention Alkhurma Hemorrhagic Fever
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Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever virus (genus Flavivirus, AHFV) was recently identified as the agent of a viral hemorrhagic fever in Saudi Arabia and characterized serologically and genetically as a variant genotype of Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV). Since viral diagnosis and vaccine development may be hindered by genetic diversity, this study was intended to address AHFV genetic heterogeneity. Eleven strains isolated from hospitalized patients from 1994 to 1999 in Saudi Arabia were sequenced in the envelope, NS3, and NS5 genes. Homologous sequences were compared and used to look for patterns reflecting specific evolution associated with spatiality, temporality, infection pathway, and disease prognosis. Genetic analyses showed low diversity, which suggests a slow microevolution. Evaluation of divergence times showed that AHFV and KFDV ancestral lineage diverged 66–177 years ago, and the diversity observed within the studied AHFV strains reflected a 4- to 72-year period of evolution.
 
 
 
Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever virus (AHFV) was first isolated in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in the 1990s from the blood of a butcher admitted to the hospital with a severe infectious syndrome. To date, 24 cases have been recorded in a 10-year period. Clinical manifestations include fever, headache, retroorbital pain, joint pain, generalized muscle pain, anorexia and vomiting associated with leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and elevated levels of liver enzymes. In addition, some patients had clinical symptoms of hemorrhagic fever or encephalitis; overall, 5 patients, of 24 infected, died, for a 25% fatality rate (1–4). AHFV was identified as a flavivirus on the basis of immunofluorescence assay performed with the flavivirusspecific monoclonal antibody 4G2 and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of a 220-bp genome fragment that exhibited 89% nucleotide (nt) sequence homology with the Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV) NS5 gene. Recently, the complete coding sequence of AHFV was determined; comparative analysis with other tickborne flaviviruses confirmed that AHFV was most closely related to KFDV, and genetic distances suggested that AHFV was a subtype of KFDV (5). In this study, 11 human isolates of AHFV, obtained in a 5-year period, were studied. Partial envelope and NS3 and NS5 genes were sequenced for each isolate and used to conduct detailed genetic analyses. The results of these analyses are presented and discussed.
 
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Last Update 23 April 2011 11:55 PM
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