Changes in enterovirus epidemiology after easing of lockdown measures

Erley Lizarazo Forero, Marjolein Knoester, Lilli Gard, Alewijn Ott, Afke H Brandenburg, Matthew B B McCall, Hubert G M Niesters, Coretta Van Leer-Buter

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INTRODUCTION: Public health measures aimed at controlling transmission of SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as "lockdown" measures, had profound effects on circulation of non-SARS viruses, many of which decreased to very low levels. The interrupted transmission of these viruses may have lasting effects. Some of the influenza clades seem to have disappeared during this period, a phenomenon which is described as a "funnel effect". It is currently unknown if the lockdown measures had any effect on the diversity of circulating viruses, other than influenza. Enteroviruses are especially interesting in this context, as the clinical presentation of an infection with a particular enterovirus-type may be clade-dependent.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Enteroviruses were detected in clinical materials using a 5'UTR-based detection PCR, and partial VP-1 sequences were obtained, using methods described before. All samples with EV detections from a large part of the Netherlands were included in the study. The samples originated from general practitioners, general hospitals, university hospitals and public health offices.

RESULTS: Five EV-genotypes circulated in significant numbers before and after the lockdown, EV-D68, E-11, CV-A6, CV-B5 and CV-A2. All five genotypes showed decreased genetic diversity after the lockdown, and four indicate a significant number of sequences clustering together with a very high sequence homology. Moreover, children with E-11 and CV-B5 detections were significantly older after the lockdown than before.

CONCLUSIONS: The reduced enterovirus transmission in the Netherlands during the pandemic, seems to have led to a decrease in genetic diversity in the five most commonly detected enterovirus serotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105617
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Early online date10-Nov-2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2023

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