Navigation Links
Scientists question the designation of some emerging diseases
Date:11/13/2012

The Ebola, Marburg and Lassa viruses are commonly referred to as emerging diseases, but leading scientists say these life-threatening viruses have been around for centuries.

In a perspective in the Nov. 9 issue of the journal Science, researchers including a professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) say it would be more appropriate to refer to these viruses as emerging diagnoses.

"The infectious agents were identified around the middle of the 20th century but that does not mean that they were new," said Joseph McCormick, M.D., one of the authors of the perspective and regional dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus, which is part of UTHealth. "Some of the viruses, including Lassa and Ebola, have been around for thousands of years."

The viruses burst onto the scene in the 1960s when outbreaks decimated areas of west and central Africa. The viruses can lead to hemorrhagic fever, a condition characterized by bleeding, shock, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, the death rate may reach 90 percent.

These viruses thrive in animals - not humans. But people can get the viruses if they come in contact with infected animals or are exposed to virus-infected fluids or tissues. Infected people are moderately contagious with person-to-person transmission only through direct contact with infectious fluids such as blood or urine. Patients with Lassa virus can be successfully treated by antiviral medications.

With the aid of epidemiologic, ecologic and genetic studies, researchers have learned that these viral hemorrhagic fevers are endemic in several areas of Africa. And, the Ebola viruses are endemic in other parts of the globe.

"The Arenavirus family of viruses that occur on many continents, of which the African Lassa virus is a member, is an ancient family of viruses that have likely evolved along with their rodent hosts over millions of years," said McCormick, former chief of the Special Pathogens Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So what would designating the viruses as emerging diagnoses mean?

"It means that these viruses have lurked as enzootic viruses in the environment and that their 'discovery' was related to the scientific capacity to make the diagnosis rather than their 'emergence,''' McCormick said. "However, it also means that we also now know more about the risks of encountering them and therefore, how to identify those who may be at risk for infection."

He said the designation would aid in the diagnosis. "Now that we understand more about their ecological niches and geographical distribution, we know more about how to avoid them. We also know more about how they cause disease and we may be able to improve treatment and seek vaccines. All of this information will lead to a more proactive approach for detection and prevention," McCormick said. "Antibody tests now allow public health officials to gauge the exposure of the public to these viruses."

With this information, McCormick, the James H. Steele Professor of Epidemiology at the UT School of Public Health, said public health officials could develop strategies for prevention and mitigation of epidemics that have characterized these viruses in the past.

McCormick said that with the ease and rapidity of global transportation, it is also important for caregivers in other parts of the world to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms. "The symptoms in the early stages are fever, headache and nausea and can easily be misdiagnosed as the flu," said McCormick, adding that physicians need to ask about the travel history of feverish patients.

McCormick is one of the world's foremost authorities on the Ebola and Lassa viruses. He also led the first HIV investigation in Africa and is the investigator who isolated the oldest HIV strain, which is recounted in the book, "Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC," which he co-authored with Susan Fisher-Hoch, M.D. She is a professor of epidemiology at the UT School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus. McCormick and Fisher-Hoch are also on the faculty of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston.


'/>"/>
Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3030
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Stanford scientists develop gene therapy approach to grow blood vessels in ischemic limbs
2. Queens scientists seek vaccine for Pseudomonas infection
3. Scientists produce eye structures from human blood-derived stem cells
4. American Society of Plant Biologists honors early career women scientists
5. Brandeis scientists win prestigious prize for circadian rhythms research
6. Scientists discover new method of proton transfer
7. Salk scientists open new window into how cancers override cellular growth controls
8. WileyChina.com - Now Featuring Bespoke Pages for China’s Life Scientists
9. Scientists win $2 million to study new pathway in development and maintenance of lymphoma
10. UGA scientists reveal genetic mutation depicted in van Goghs sunflower paintings
11. Genetic mutation depicted in van Goghs sunflower paintings revealed by scientists
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists question the designation of some emerging diseases
(Date:11/21/2016)... , Nov. 21, 2016   Neurotechnology ... object recognition technologies, today announced that the MegaMatcher ... cards was submitted for the NIST Minutiae ... passed all the mandatory steps of the evaluation ... is a continuing test of fingerprint templates used ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... ROCKVILLE, Md. , Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... clinical company developing therapeutics focused on the gut ... public offering of 25,000,000 shares of its common ... its common stock at a price to the ... gross proceeds to Synthetic Biologics from the offering, ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016  The American College of Medical Genetics ... Executive Magazine as one of the fastest-growing trade shows ... at the Bellagio in Las Vegas . ... percentage of growth in each of the following categories: net ... and number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... Oxford Gene Technology ... Palette an anpassbaren SureSeq™ NGS-Panels mit dem Start ... ein schnelles und kostengünstiges Studium der Varianten bei ... Erkennung von Einzel-Nukleotid-Variationen (Single Nucleotide Variation, SNV) und ... Panel und ermöglicht eine individuelle Anpassung durch die ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... 08, 2016 , ... Microbial genomics leader, uBiome, joins Google, ... of just six company finalists in the Health & Medicine category. Over 1,000 ... as finalists in this year’s awards include Google, SpaceX, Oculus, and SolarCity. Individuals ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Dec. 8, 2016 Savannah River Remediation ... and selected NewTechBio,s NT-MAX Lake & Pond ... beneficial bacteria, in conjunction with Hexa Armor/ Rhombo ... with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements. ... a steady history of elevated pH levels, above ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... 07, 2016 , ... A new study published in the ... treated, advanced pancreatic cancer, liquid biopsies are not yet an adequate substitute for ... blood sampling may improve the value of a blood-based test.” The study was ...
Breaking Biology Technology: