Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases of National Health Laboratory Service (NICD-NHLS), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Roche's 454 Life Sciences Corporation have discovered the new virus responsible for a highly fatal hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Zambia and South Africa in late 2008.
It is the first new hemorrhagic fever-associated arenavirus from Africa identified in nearly four decades. A detailed genetic analysis of this novel arenavirus, named Lujo virus, after the sites of the outbreak (Lusaka, Zambia, and Johannesburg, South Africa) is published online in PLoS Pathogens (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000455).
The previously unknown arenavirus, which was identified using genetic extracts of blood and liver from the victims and through unbiased high-throughput sequencing, is distantly related to Lassa virus and Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Characterization of the novel virus confirms the utility of unbiased high-throughput sequencing for pathogen discovery and provides a blueprint for public health efforts to quickly curb unidentified emerging viral disease outbreaks in the future. It will also enable the development of specific tests to diagnose infection, determine the origin of the virus, and develop drugs and vaccines to treat and prevent disease.
In September and October 2008, five cases of undiagnosed hemorrhagic fever were recognized in South Africa after air transfer of a critically ill individual from Zambia. The disease was fatal in four of the five cases, including the originally infected individual, the paramedic who attended the patient during air transfer, the nurse who attended the patient in the intensive care unit, and a member of the hospital staff who cleaned the room after the death of the patient. The fifth case, a nurse who attended the paramedic, one day before barrier nursing procedures were implemented, received anti-viral treatment and recovered.
"Within 72 hours we identified the novel virus using high-throughput sequencing," stated Thomas Briese, PhD, associate professor of clinical Epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
"It is reassuring that we now have the tools needed to rapidly detect and respond to the challenges of unknown pathogens. A key challenge that remains is deployment of these technologies to the 'hot spots' where new killer viruses frequently emerge. We remain committed to this important public health effort as it represents a unique opportunity to prevent the next pandemic, be it a threat like HIV or SARS," said Ian Lipkin, MD, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and professor of Neurology and Pathology at Columbia University and director of CII.
"The successful international collaboration during this highly fatal outbreak highlighted the importance of global cooperation in outbreak response to emerging and highly dangerous pathogens", stated Janusz Paweska, DVSc, Head of the Special Pathogens Unit of NICD-NHLS, extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria, and deputy director of the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance. "This south-north collaboration created a powerful partnership of scientific excellence, resulting in rapid and comprehensive full genetic characterization of the new virus".
"454-sequencing enables researchers to quickly identify organisms present in a complex sample without any prior knowledge or bias," explained Michael Egholm, co-author and Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Research and Development at 454 Life Sciences. "Our work with Lipkin and colleagues in developing a comprehensive approach to pathogen detection has borne fruit in resolving a number of recent disease outbreaks and confirms that it will be a critical tool for public health. We were honored in this most recent example to work with outstanding investigators at the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, South Africa, the CII, and the World Health Organization."
This work was supported by Google.org and the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
About the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
The Center is dedicated to global research and training programs focused on pathogen surveillance and discovery, and the understanding of how gene-environment-timing interactions contribute to health and disease. www.cii.columbia.edu
About the Mailman School of Public Health
The only accredited school of public health in New York City and among the first in the nation, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting millions of people locally and globally. The Mailman School is the recipient of some of the largest governmental and private grants in Columbia University's history. Its more than 1000 graduate students pursue master's and doctoral degrees, and the School's 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, health promotion and disease prevention, environmental health, maternal and child health, health over the life course, health policy, and public health preparedness.
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research