The outbreak affects the populations of Comoros, Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Réunion. It is much larger than any previous outbreak, with up to one third of the populations of those islands (several hundred thousand people) infected. More recently, several states of India have also reported cases of the disease.
The disease is caused by the chikungunya virus, which is spread to humans by mosquito bites. It was first described in Tanzania in 1952 and has since been found in Africa, India, and South East Asia. The name is derived from a local Tanzanian word meaning "that which bends up", a reference to the stooped posture many patients develop as a result of painful inflammation of the joints commonly associated with the disease. Other symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, and a skin rash. There is no specific treatment available. Most patients get better after a few days, but the pain in the joints can persist for long after the other symptoms have disappeared.
Brisse and colleagues determined the entire genetic sequence of six virus samples isolated from patients in different places (five from Réunion and one from the Seychelles) and different times (three from early 2005 and three from later in 2005) during the outbreak. They also sequenced one of the viral genes (called E1) from virus samples taken from an additional 121 patients. The results show that the outbreak began with a strain related to East-African strains of the virus which subsequently developed into several distinct variants. All of the Indian Ocean sequences share unique molecular features that differ from strains of the virus involved in earlier outbreaks and suggest how the virus could have become more "aggressive". Experiments are now underway to test which of these features might be responsible for the apparent increase in the virus’ ability to infect humans and cause disease.
As the authors note, the mosquitoes that transmit the Chikungunya virus in Africa and Asia are not limited to these areas--in fact they are the same ones that transmit yellow fever and dengue fever in many parts of the world--which raises the possibility that the chikungunya virus could spread and cause disease elsewhere.
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
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