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Echovirus 30 meningitis epidemic followed by an outbreak-specific RT-qPCR.

BACKGROUND: An outbreak of enteroviral aseptic meningitis emerged in Southwestern Finland in August 2009. The same enterovirus reappeared with increasing incidence of meningitis in other parts of Finland in 2010.

OBJECTIVES: To identify the incidence and molecular epidemiology of enteroviral meningitis outbreak.

STUDY DESIGN: The causative agent was identified as echovirus 30 (E-30) by sequencing partial viral protein 1 capsid genome, and a virus type-specific RT-qPCR was set up for sensitive detection of the virus in cerebrospinal fluid specimens. Enterovirus positive CSF specimens were subjected to the E-30-specific assay to investigate this unusual occurrence of aseptic meningitis and facilitate case confirmation during the outbreaks between August 2009 and September 2010.

RESULTS: E-30 was detected in 106 (72%) enterovirus positive cerebrospinal fluid specimens. All the meningitis cases in 2009 and most of them in 2010 were among adolescents and several were members of sport teams.

CONCLUSIONS: Between August 2009 and September 2010, E-30 caused an extensive outbreak with two peaks in Finland. Type-specific RT-PCR allowed rapid diagnostic follow-up of the epidemic.

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