Having confirmed the first cases of infection in Suriname then in French Guiana, the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana has sequenced the complete genome of the Zika virus, which is responsible for an unprecedented epidemic currently sweeping through the tropical regions of the Americas. Published in The Lancet medical journal, the analysis of this sequence shows almost complete homology with the strains responsible for the epidemic that occurred in the Pacific in 2013 and 2014.
Last November, following a request by colleagues in Suriname, the team from the Virology Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana -- a National Reference Center for Arboviruses for the Antilles-French Guiana region -- confirmed the first five indigenous cases of infection by the Zika virus in Suriname. Researchers from the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana have just mapped the complete genome sequence of this viral strain using one of these five samples.
The analysis of this genome, which features in The Lancet today, shows that it belongs to the Asian lineage and presents over 99% homology with the strain responsible for the epidemic in French Polynesia in 2013. "Until now few complete sequences of this virus and none of the strains currently circulating in South and Central America were available.
This complete sequence of the virus is a major starting point for shedding light on how its behavior develops", points out Dominique Rousset, Head of the Virology Laboratory and National Reference Center for Arboviruses at the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana.
The first cases were confirmed in Brazil in May 2015 and the country is currently experiencing the largest epidemic ever recorded with 440,000 to 1,300,000 suspected cases reported by the Brazilian health authorities. The Zika virus has spread quickly, affecting 10 countries in the tropical regions of the Americas as well as the Caribbean so far.
While until recently the infection was considered harmless, the Zika virus epidemic which raged in French Polynesia and the Pacific in 2013-2014 was accompanied by an increase in serious neurological complications, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and congenital neurological defects.
In Brazil, the very significant increase in the number of microcephaly cases in fetuses whose mothers were infected during pregnancy forced the government to declare a state of emergency in December 2015. "Are these defects caused by the Zika virus alone, the co-circulation of other infectious agents or other factors? Multidisciplinary research projects will need to be set up to answer these questions. We are already trying to improve our knowledge of this virus and understand its development, primarily by building on diagnostic tools" explains Dominique Rousset.
In addition, a team of four researchers from the Institut Pasteur in Dakar arrived in Sao Paulo on January 5th, to help Brazilian scientists deal with the Zika epidemic.
To date, 17 cases have been confirmed in French Guiana and three in Martinique. Given the very rapid spread of the Zika virus, the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana remains actively involved in epidemiological monitoring, alongside the health authorities and the Institut Pasteur International Network.
"We are committed to supporting vector control by monitoring resistance to insecticides, as part of an agreement with the Regional Health Agency. Research into the impact of this resistance on the vectorial competence of Aedes aegypti populations for various arboviruses, including the Zika virus, is also being conducted at the Vectopole", adds Isabelle Dusfour, entomologist at the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana.
Described for the first time in Uganda in 1947, Zika is an arbovirus belonging to the same family as the dengue virus and is spread by the same vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
It can also be spread by the tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, which is present in some regions in mainland France. Under the supervision of entomologist Anna-Bella Failloux, responsible for the Arboviruses and Insect Vectors Unit, the Institut Pasteur is currently conducting research in Paris to assess the vectorial competence of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, and ascertain the role of these two species in the dynamics of the Zika epidemic. This work will help to better assess the risk of the virus being introduced to France.
Zika virus genome from the Americas, The Lancet, January 7, 2016
Antoine Enfissi (1), John Codrington (2), Jimmy Roosblad (2), Mirdad Kazanji (1), Dominique Rousset (1)
(1) Institut Pasteur in French Guiana, Virology Laboratory, Cayenne, French Guiana, France
(2) Laboratory Academisch Ziekenhuis, Paramaribo, Suriname
About the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana
Present in French Guiana since 1940, the Institut Pasteur in French Guiana is part of the Institut Pasteur International Network and associated institutes. Its work focuses on four areas -- research, teaching, public health support and services to the public.
The Institut Pasteur in French Guiana is one of 33 member institutions of the Institut Pasteur International Network. Located in 26 countries over five continents, the role of this network is to help monitor and fight infectious diseases through research, public health initiatives and training.
Myriam Rebeyrotte | EurekAlert!
How molecules teeter in a laser field
18.01.2019 | Forschungsverbund Berlin
Discovery of enhanced bone growth could lead to new treatments for osteoporosis
18.01.2019 | University of California - Los Angeles
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2019 | Life Sciences
18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine