Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Newly discovered virus implicated in deadly Chinese outbreaks

23.03.2011
Tick-borne disease identified as emerging threat

Five years ago, large numbers of farmers in central China began falling victim to an mysterious disease marked by high fever, gastrointestinal disorder and an appalling mortality rate — as high as 30 percent in initial reports.

Investigators from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention hurried to the scene of the outbreak. On the basis of DNA evidence, they quickly concluded that it had been caused by human granulocytic anaplasmosis, a bacteria transmitted by tick bites.

Now, though, subsequent studies have shown that original conclusion was incorrect, and that a previously unknown and dangerous virus has been responsible for seasonal outbreaks of the disease in six of China's most populated provinces.

"We expected to find a bacterial infection behaving in an unexpected way — human anaplasmosis has a less than one percent fatality rate in the U.S., and it rarely causes abdominal pain or vomiting or diarrhea," said Dr. Xue-Jie Yu of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, lead author of a paper on the discovery now appearing in the "online advance" section of the New England Journal of Medicine. "Instead, we found an unknown virus."

Researchers have dubbed the newly discovered pathogen Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome virus, and placed it in the Bunyaviridae family, along with the hantaviruses and Rift Valley Fever virus. Later investigation has placed its mortality rate at 12 percent, still alarmingly high.

Yu, a specialist in tick-borne bacteria like the species responsible for HGA, first suspected that a virus might be responsible for the outbreaks after close examination of patients' clinical data showed big differences from symptoms produced by HGA, and blood sera drawn from patients revealed no HGA or HGA antibodies.

Yu became certain that a virus was at fault after sera taken from patients retained its ability to kill cells, despite being passed through a filter that blocked all bacteria. Still, initial genetic tests failed to generate a match with a known pathogen.

"Clearly, we had a virus, but what virus?" Yu said. "I told the people I was working with that they needed to be even more careful, because we were working with an unknown."

That caution seemed appropriate when electron microscope studies of deactivated virus particles revealed what appeared to be a hantavirus — associated in Asia with hemorrhagic fever and in the Americas with a deadly pulmonary syndrome. But when Yu and his colleagues managed to extract the virus' entire genetic code, they found that it didn't match any other known virus.

When researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention led by study author Dr. Yu Wang analyzed sera taken from 241 symptomatic patients from Henan, Hubei, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu and Liaoning provinces, they found 171 contained either the previously unknown virus itself or antibodies against it. In addition, the scientists found the virus in 10 out of 186 ticks collected from farm animals in the area where the patients lived.

"This seems to be a tick-borne disease, and the disease comes out when the ticks come out, from late March to late July," Yu said. "Fortunately, even though the full life cycle is not clear, we know that for the virus humans are a dead end — we don't have human-to-human transmission as we did with SARS."

Other authors of the New England Journal of Medicine paper include UTMB Health visiting scientist Dr. Yan Liu, professor Vsevolod Popov, professor Dr. David Walker and research associate Dr. Lihong Zhang; Dr. Qun Li, Wen-Wu Yin, Hang Zhou and Dr. Zi-Jian Feng of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Mi-Fang Liang, Jian-Dong Li, Dr. Yu-Lan Sun, Quan-Fu Zhang, Chuan Li, Dr. Yan-Ping Zhang, Wei Wu, Qin Wang, Shi-Wen Wang, Jing-Dong Song, Tao Wan, Li-Na Sun, Dr. Tao Hong and Dr. De-Xin Li of the State Key Laboratory for Molecular Virology and Genetic Engineering, National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention; Shou-Yin Zhang, Dr. Rong Hai, Biao Kan, Kang-Lin Wan, Dr. Huai-Qi Jing, Dr. Jin-Xin Lu, Jin-Rong He, Jing-Shang Zhang and Xiu-Ping Fu of the State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention; Fa-Xian Zhan, Xu-Hua Guan and Dr. Jia-Fa Liu of the Hubei Province CDC; Dr. Xian-Jun Wang and Zhen-Qiang Bi of the Shandong Province CDC; Dr. Guo-Hua Liu of the Henan Province CDC; Dr. Jun Ren of the Anhui Province CDC; Dr. Hua Wang of the Jiangsu Province CDC; Dr. Zhuo Zhao of the Liaoning Province CDC; and Dr. Yu Zhang of the Hubei Province Department of Health.

The China Mega-Project for Infectious Diseases, the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Chinese Recruitment Program of Global Experts provided support for this research.

ABOUT UTMB Health: Established in 1891, Texas' first academic health center comprises four health sciences schools, three institutes for advanced study, a research enterprise that includes one of only two national laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to human health, and a health system offering a full range of primary and specialized medical services throughout Galveston County and the Texas Gulf Coast region. UTMB Health is a component of the University of Texas System.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144

Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utmb.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>