Laboratory acquired tick-borne meningoencephalitis: characterisation of virus strains

T. Avšič-Županc, M. Poljak, M. Matičič, A. Radšel-Medvešček, J. W. LeDuc, K. Stiasny, C. Kunz, F. X. Heinz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: The handling of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus is potentially hazardous, as indicated by a number of laboratory-acquired infections in the prevaccination era. Objectives: (1) To reemphasize the hazard of handling TBE virus without being vaccinated by describing the case of a laboratory-acquired full-blown TBE in a microbiologist who isolated the virus from a blood sample. (2) To molecularly characterize the causative virus strain isolated in Slovenia in comparison with the European prototype strain Neudoerfl. Study design: The virological diagnosis of the laboratory infection was established by serology and virus isolation. The virus was characterized by restriction fragment analysis of PCR products of amplified genomic sequences and a panel of monoclonal antibodies reacting with the major envelope protein. Results: The laboratory infection, most probably acquired by aerosol, resulted in a biphasic course of the disease with a severe meningoencephalitis in the second phase. Both by restriction fragment and monoclonal antibody analysis the Slovenian virus strains involved were indistinguishable from the European prototype strain. Conclusions: This report confirms the potential hazard of handling TBE virus in the laboratory without being vaccinated. The similarity of the virus isolates from Slovenia with the European prototype strain confirms the previously observed homogeneity of TBE virus strains from different European countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Homogeneity of TBE virus in Europe
  • Laboratory infection in Slovenia
  • TBE virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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