Navigation Links
Predicting hotspots for future flu outbreaks

This year's unusually long and rocky flu season would be nothing compared to the pandemic that could occur if bird flu became highly contagious among humans, which is why UCLA researchers and their colleagues are creating new ways to predict where an outbreak could emerge.

"Using surveillance of influenza cases in humans and birds, we've come up with a technique to predict sites where these viruses could mix and generate a future pandemic," said lead author Trevon Fuller, a UCLA postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability's Center for Tropical Research.

The researchers' models revealed that coastal and central China and Egypt's Nile Delta are danger zones where bird flu could combine with human flu to create a virulent kind of super-flu. Governments can prioritize these zones and use the researchers' models to identify other hotspots for increased monitoring of flu in humans, livestock, poultry and wild birds. That could help detect a novel flu virus before it spreads worldwide, the researchers said.

The research paper, "Predicting Hotspots for Influenza Virus Reassortment," was published March 13 in the peer-reviewed public health journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Previous pandemics, such as the 1957 and 1968 influenzas that each killed more than a million people or the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak that killed 280,000 worldwide, developed when viruses from humans and animals exchanged genes to create a new virus in a process called reassortment. Recent research using mice confirms that genes from bird flu and human flu can combine to create dangerous new flu strains. Swine, which are susceptible to both bird and human flu, could serve as a mixing vessel for reassortment between the two viruses.

"The mixing of genetic material between the seasonal human flu virus and bird flu can create novel virus strains that are more lethal than either of the original viruses," said senior author Thomas Smith, director of the Center for Tropical Research and a professor at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"These findings predicting potential outbreak sites can help decision-makers prioritize the most important areas where people, poultry and livestock should be vaccinated and animals should be monitored for novel viruses, which could help predict and prevent the next pandemic," he said.

The researchers looked for locations where bird flu outbreaks, human flu outbreaks and swine populations overlapped to predict hotspots where reassortment is more likely, using a $1.3 million grant from the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.

The research focused on two flu strains that studies in mice have shown can combine with lethal results: the seasonal H3N2 human flu, and the H5N1 strain of bird flu that has occasionally crossed over into humans. Currently, H5N1 has a 60 percent mortality rate in humans but is not known to spread between humans frequently.

While the World Health Organization has identified six countries as hosts to ongoing, widespread bird flu infections in poultry in 2011 China, Egypt, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh the UCLA researchers and their colleagues had limited data to work with. Not all flu outbreaks, whether bird or human, are tracked. The scientists had to identify indicators of flu outbreaks, such as dense poultry populations, or rain and temperatures that encourage flu transmission.

"For each type of flu, we identified variables that were predictive of the various virus strains," Fuller said. "We wanted a map of predictions continuously across the whole country, including locations where we didn't have data on flu outbreaks."

Although the researchers had bird flu data for parts of both China and Egypt, other countries, such as Indonesia, don't have full reporting systems in place. Even in China and Egypt, accurate reporting is hampered by farmers who may conceal flu outbreaks in order to sell their livestock.

"If we provide incentives for better reporting, we could more precisely predict future outbreaks," Fuller said.


Contact: Alison Hewitt
University of California - Los Angeles

Related medicine news :

1. Predicting risk of arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death: Theres a computer model for that
2. Combining diagnostic tests more accurate at predicting Alzheimers
3. Valuable tool for predicting pain genes in people
4. Predicting, preventing, and controlling pandemics: Making the case for a strategic action plan
5. Researchers develop non-invasive technique for predicting patients response to chemotherapy
6. Study uncovers simple way of predicting severe pain following breast cancer surgery
7. A new model for predicting recovery after spinal cord injury
8. Predicting post-traumatic stress disorder before it happens
9. Study examines BI-RADS and MRI in predicting breast cancer
10. Why are kids in asthma hotspots in NYC more likely to visit the ER? Exercise may be a factor
11. Diseases of aging map to a few hotspots on the human genome
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... PurhealthRX , a leading Health and ... Applying the Purzorb™process to full spectrum CBD oil will revolutionize the rapidly growing CBD ... that can be easily incorporated into liquid products, while reducing costs to end users. ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Lori R. Somekh, founder of the ... national organization of elder law and special needs planning attorneys. “Membership in ElderCounsel helps ... provides a forum to network with elder law attorneys nationwide,” said Somekh. , ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... Calif. (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Many ... dementia. However, many long-term care insurance companies have a waiver for care if the ... 90-day elimination period, when the family pays for care, is often waived, so the ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Ellevate Network, the leading network for ... for action towards gender equality at their inaugural Summit in New York City in ... reached a social audience of over 3 million. To watch the Mobilize Women video, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer ... one of the most popular and least understood books in the Holy Scriptures, Revelation. ... descriptions that have baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it off as mere ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/4/2017)... 2017  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ... PhysicianOne Urgent Care is helping communities across Massachusetts , ... by offering no-cost* flu shots through the end of the month. ... insurance regulations. ... get a flu shot is by the end of October, according to ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... 2, 2017  Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: ... the third quarter of 2017 on Tuesday, October 24, ... that day with the investment community and media to ... conference call will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern time. ... live webcast of the conference call through a link ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... , Oct. 2, 2017 The Rebound mobile app ... struggle to reverse the tide of prescription drug addiction. The ... their medicine intake and stepping down their dosage in a ... launch in December 2017; the first 100,000 people to sign ... at ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: