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New arenavirus discovered as cause of hemorrhagic fever outbreak in South Africa and Zambia
Date:6/2/2009

ient. 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 fr
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Contact: Randee Sacks Levine
rs363@columbia.edu
212-305-8044
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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