Background: In August and September 2014, unexpected clusters of enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) infections associated with severe respiratory disease emerged from North-America. In September, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) asked European countries to strengthen respiratory sample screening for enterovirus detection and typing in cases with severe respiratory presentations. Objectives: To provide a detailed picture of EV-D68 epidemiology in Europe by conducting a retrospective and prospective laboratory analysis of clinical specimens. Study design: An initiative supported by the European Society for Clinical Virology (ESCV) and ECDC was launched to screen for EV-D68 in respiratory specimens between July 1st and December 1st 2014 in Europe and to sequence the VP1 region of detected viruses for phylogenetic analytic purposes. Results: Forty-two institutes, representing 51 laboratories from 17 European countries, analyzed 17,248 specimens yielding 389 EV-D68 positive samples (2.26%) in 14 countries. The proportion of positive samples ranged between 0 and 25% per country. These infections resulted primarily in mild respiratory disease, mainly detected in young children presenting with wheezing and in immuno-compromised adults. The viruses detected in Europe are genetically very similar to those of the North-American epidemic and the majority (83%) could be assigned to clade B. Except for 3 acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases, one death and limited ICU admissions, no severe cases were reported. Conclusions: The European study showed that EV-D68 circulated in Europe during summer and fall of 2014 with a moderate disease burden and different pathogenic profile compared to the North-American epidemic.
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© 2015 The Authors.