Molecular typing of enteroviruses associated with viral meningitis in Cyprus, 2000–2002

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Human enteroviruses are responsible for a wide spectrum of clinical diseases affecting many different organ systems. Although infection is usually asymptomatic, infections of the central nervous system manifested as meningitis or encephalitis can pose a serious public health problem, especially during outbreaks. In this study, samples from 218 patients diagnosed with enteroviral meningitis between January 2000 and December 2002 were analysed in order to assess the epidemiology of human enteroviruses as a cause of viral meningitis in Cyprus. A new typing strategy, based on partial sequencing of the 5′ non-coding region (5′NCR), prediction of type, and selection of type-specific primers for sensitive VP1 PCR amplification, was developed. As clustering in the 5′NCR was concordant with clustering in the VP1 region, quick and reliable typing by VP1 sequencing was achieved without virus isolation in cell culture. The most frequent enterovirus serotypes identified were Human echovirus 30 (55.5 %), Human echovirus 13 (15.1 %), Human echovirus 6 (13.8 %) and Human echovirus 9 (8.3 %). Human coxsackieviruses B2, B1 and B5, Human echovirus 4, Human enterovirus 71 and Human coxsackievirus A6 represented rather rare serotypes. This is the first molecular epidemiological study of enterovirus meningitis in Cyprus. Serotype distribution corresponded basically with observations in other European countries, suggesting the spread of enteroviruses by tourism.

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