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Virology News
Topical news snippets about viruses that affect people. And other things.
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Pig disease outbreak in Ukraine a major warning sign

Pig disease outbreak in Ukraine a major warning sign | Virology News | Scoop.it

21 August 2012, Rome - Following the first-ever detection of African swine fever in Ukraine, FAO is warning that while control measures appear to have temporarily halted the disease's spread, it has established a firm foothold in the Caucasus and poses an ongoing risk to neighbouring areas.

In addition to some other parts of Ukraine, nearby countries like Moldova, Kazakhstan and Latvia — which have large pig populations raised on household or family farms, and oftentimes weak biosecurity protocols — are also now at high risk of disease introduction.

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Pangaea and the Out-of-Africa Model of Varicella-Zoster Virus Evolution and Phylogeography

Pangaea and the Out-of-Africa Model of Varicella-Zoster Virus Evolution and Phylogeography | Virology News | Scoop.it

Based on detailed tree-building models, the base of the phylogenetic tree of the Herpesviridae family has been estimated at 400 mya. Subsequently, Pangaea split into Laurasia and Gondwanaland; in turn, Africa rifted from Gondwanaland. Based on available data, the hypothesis of this minireview is that the ancestral alphaherpesvirus VZV coevolved in simians, apes, and hominins in Africa. When anatomically modern humans first crossed over the Red Sea 60,000 years ago, VZV was carried along in their dorsal root ganglia.

 

I love it when virology and human evolution come together.  Herpesvirus graphic courtesy of Russell Kightley Media

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Extreme disinformation about HPV vaccines

And from what I understand this is the first cancer vaccine ever to contain live cancer cells. "

 

My comment:

Then you are hugely and horribly misinformed: neither HPV vaccine contains ANY cancer cells, or ANYTHING derived from cancer cells. They are subunit vaccines, derived from the purified products of ONLY the virus structural proteins being expressed in cell expression systems that have NOTHING to do with cancers - or even with human cells.

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West Nile Virus, a Tropical Disease, Rages in Dallas

West Nile Virus, a Tropical Disease, Rages in Dallas | Virology News | Scoop.it
There are no good ways to die, but death by the West Nile virus is worse than most. The tropical disease begins in birds, which pass it on to mosquitoes that then go on to infect human beings with a bite.
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Study: ART reduces HIV transmission risk by 87p.c

Study: ART reduces HIV transmission risk by 87p.c | Virology News | Scoop.it

The HIV/Aids antiretroviral therapy suppression rate has sharply risen to 87 per cent in 2010 from 37 per cent in 1996, thus reducing the risk of transmission by 96 per cent.
However, a 2011 Treatment as Prevention study said that an HIV-infected person who begins treatment early reduces the risk of transmission.
This was said by Dr Paul Sax, clinical director of the HIV Programme, Division of Infectious Diseases at Bringham and Women Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, during his presentation at an HIV/Aids conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

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Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae | Virology News | Scoop.it

It's a virus family!!  Or - a bird??  How confusing.  Someone needs to change their taxonomy.  Thanks to Russell Kightley for the keen observation.

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HealthMap | Global Health, Local Knowledge

HealthMap | Global Health, Local Knowledge | Virology News | Scoop.it

Red for Ebola...very useful, ProMED's "health maps"!

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ELECTROPHORESIS OF THE RABBIT PAPILLOMA VIRUS – Star - Hi Books

This is synchronicity, of a sort, seeing as I recently blogged on whole-virus electrophoresis done in our labs sometime in the late 1970s.  This is a whole lot more complicated, as it happens, but still a useful tool.  If you can get enough virus, that is!

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Ebola outbreak kills 9 in DR Congo

Ebola outbreak kills 9 in DR Congo | Virology News | Scoop.it

Fourth Estate Cooperative Staff Kinshasa, Dr Congo (4E) - An outbreak of Ebola infection in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed nine people, according to Health Minister Felix Kabangue.
The fatalities were among 11 people confirmed infected with the deadly virus in the northern town of Isiro in Oriental Province, Kabangue said on Saturday. Those infected are now being treated by doctors from the health ministry, the World Health Organization, the French aid organization Doctors Without Borders and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Definitely deja vu all over again!  http://www.mcb.uct.ac.za/ebola/ebopage.htm

 

Filovirus infection graphic by Russell Kightley Media

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Flu vaccine research: Overcoming 'original sin'

Flu vaccine research: Overcoming 'original sin' | Virology News | Scoop.it
Scientists studying flu vaccines have identified ways to overcome an obstacle called "original antigenic sin," which can impair immune responses to new flu strains.

Original antigenic sin (OAS) is a situation where the immune system is fighting with obsolete weapons and has trouble adapting. After encountering one viral strain, and then a new one that is related to the first, the immune system can respond by making antibodies against the first strain, resulting in a less effective defense.
Researchers at Emory Vaccine Center have demonstrated in experiments with mice that OAS can be overcome by using a vaccine additive called an adjuvant, or by repeated immunization with the second viral strain. The results were published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Researchers improve soil carbon cycling models

Researchers improve soil carbon cycling models | Virology News | Scoop.it
A new carbon cycling model better accounts for the carbon dioxide-releasing activity of microbes in the ground, improving scientists’ understanding of the role soil will play in future climate change.

 

Yes - but do they consider viruses??  I am not convinced that terrestrial carbon cycler mavens have adequately considered the impact of viruses on carbon cycling.

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U.S. Medics Support Botswana HIV Prevention Efforts

U.S. Medics Support Botswana HIV Prevention Efforts | Virology News | Scoop.it

"Today, 17.6 percent of the general population is infected with HIV, and the rate continues to climb by 2.2 percent per year, Maj. Mooketsi Ditsela, the Botswana Defense Force’s HIV coordinator, told American Forces Press Service. Men ages 30 to 45 suffer the highest infection rates, topping 40 percent, according to Health Ministry statistics."

 

17.6 percent of the whole Botswana population is HIV positive: that is HORRIFYING.  But possibly not as bad as Swaziland....

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Medicago Announces 2012 Second Quarter Financial Results [H1N1 vaccine]

Medicago Announces 2012 Second Quarter Financial Results [H1N1 vaccine] | Virology News | Scoop.it
Medicago Announces 2012 Second Quarter Financial Results PR Newswire QUEBEC CITY, Aug. 14, 2012 QUEBEC CITY , Aug. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - Medicago Inc.

"Subsequent to the second quarter:

Announced the successful completion of a key milestone under an agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The milestone was the production of at least 10 million doses of H1N1 VLP influenza vaccine candidate in one month (the "rapid fire test"). The rapid fire test was conducted at Medicago's facility in Durham, North Carolina. As part of the rapid fire test, production of the H1N1 VLP influenza vaccine candidate began on March 25th, 2012, and was completed in 30 days on April 24th, 2012. The production lots were then tested by a third party laboratory to confirm both the immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate and the number of doses produced. Testing confirmed that a single dose of the H1N1 VLP influenza vaccine candidate induced protective levels of neutralizing antibodies in an animal model. The production of significantly more than 10 million doses, as defined by the testing conditions, were confirmed."

 

This is a big, big deal - because they did this via transient expression in plants, thus proving pretty much beyond doubt that this is now a serious vaccine manufacturing technology.  Going green: the sensible thing to do...B-)

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Gag-Specific Cellular Immunity Determines In Vitro Viral Inhibition and In Vivo Virologic Control following Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Challenges of Vaccinated Rhesus Monkeys

Gag-Specific Cellular Immunity Determines In Vitro Viral Inhibition and In Vivo Virologic Control following Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Challenges of Vaccinated Rhesus Monkeys | Virology News | Scoop.it

"We observed that CD8+ lymphocytes from 23 vaccinated rhesus monkeys inhibited replication of SIV in vitro. Moreover, the magnitude of inhibition prior to challenge was inversely correlated with set point SIV plasma viral loads after challenge. In addition, CD8 cell-mediated viral inhibition in vaccinated rhesus monkeys correlated significantly with Gag-specific, but not Pol- or Env-specific, CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocyte responses. These findings demonstrate that in vitro viral inhibition following vaccination largely reflects Gag-specific cellular immune responses and correlates with in vivo virologic control following infection. These data suggest the importance of including Gag in an HIV-1 vaccine in which virologic control is desired."

 

In other words: having Gag or a gag gene included in a vaccine against SIV given to monkeys was more important than having Pol or Env when it came to control of virus replication - although, as has been shown elsewhere, Env responses are important for protecting against acquisition.  This has important implications for human vaccines - although "monkeys aren't men, and mice lie" - and in particular for the South African SAAVI vaccines, which elicit quite good Gag-specific cellular responses.

 

We wait in hope.  Graphic showing immune cells associated with HIV control courtesy of Russell Kightley Media.

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CDC - Seasonal Influenza (Flu) - Information on H3N2 Variant Influenza A Viruses

CDC - Seasonal Influenza (Flu) - Information on H3N2 Variant Influenza A Viruses | Virology News | Scoop.it
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Flu - Information on H3N2 Variant Influenza A Viruses.

 

Useful news on what could be an emerging influenza threat.

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A Young Girl Receiving A Vaccine Canvas Print

A Young Girl Receiving A Vaccine Canvas Print / Canvas Art - Artist Everett: Amazon.com: Home & Kitchen...

 

Which begs the question, why would anyone WANT such a picture??

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Targeting sugars in the quest for a vaccine against HIV -

As a step toward designing the first effective vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, scientists are reporting new insights into how a family of rare, highly potent antibodies bind to HIV and neutralize it — stop it from infecting human cells. The antibodies were isolated from people infected with HIV and work against a wide range of HIV strains. The researchers described the study today at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

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What's Causing the Spike in HIV Infection in Old Chinese Men? - Business Insider

What's Causing the Spike in HIV Infection in Old Chinese Men? - Business Insider | Virology News | Scoop.it
China DailyWhat's Causing the Spike in HIV Infection in Old Chinese Men?
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White death: A diabolical pact between an insect and two viruses

White death: A diabolical pact between an insect and two viruses | Virology News | Scoop.it

This is actually an article in The Economist from 2007 - forwarded to me by a Professor of Philosophy, as it happens, and which has mouldered on my desk lo, these past five years.  Thanks David Benatar!

 

"Whiteflies are pests in every continent that they are found in—and they are found in every continent except Antarctica. They cause damage directly, by consuming plant juices, and indirectly, by spreading viral diseases. But Liu Shusheng, of Zhejiang University, in Hangzhou, and his colleagues have found a strain of the species that delivers a double whammy. Not only does it spread diseases, but it is also vastly more successful when it lives on plants infected with the diseases in question [tomato yellow leafcurl and tobacco curly shoot begomoviruses, both ssDNA geminiviruses]  than when it subsists on healthy plants."

 

This is a fascinating example of just why it is that certain vector-virus-host combinations can lead to success of the vector, and increased spread of the virus.  Basically,

 

"...type B insects lived six times longer on infected plants than uninfected ones, and their population per infected plant might rise as high as 13 times that on an uninfected one"

 

This means that geminivirus infection of host plants actually gives a survival advantage to the insects which transmit them.  Simple if unfortunate!!

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EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE - DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (04): (ORIENTALE)

Date: Sun 19 Aug 2012
Source: RT [edited]
http://rt.com/news/ebola-outbreak-congo-nine-dead-048/

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 9 people have died from an outbreak of [ebolavirus infection] in the Democratic Republic of Congo, only weeks after the virulent disease was declared "under control" in neighboring Uganda. The new cases of [ebolavirus infection] were detected near the country's [northeastern] town of Isiro [Orientale province], the Congolese health minister said.

A group of specialists from various international organizations -- the WHO, Doctors Without Borders, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- are working in the country alongside local doctors. They are conducting a detailed epidemiological investigation, and are attempting to quarantine people who may have been in contact with those infected.

The new outbreak comes just weeks after another Ebola virus disease epidemic in neighboring Uganda -- roughly 30 miles from its border with DR Congo -- was declared to be over. The Ugandan outbreak killed 16 people in July 2012. The 2 epidemics are not believed to be linked, since the strain found in DR Congo is different from the one identified in Uganda, Doctors Without Borders reported.

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South African HIV-1 vaccine candidates – the journey from the bench to clinical trials | South African Medical Journal

South African HIV-1 vaccine candidates – the journey from the bench to clinical trials  | South African Medical Journal | Virology News | Scoop.it
South African HIV-1 vaccine candidates – the journey from the bench to clinical trials...

 

HIV infection graphic courtesy of Russell Kightley Media

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Zebra herpes virus kills zoo polar bears

Zebra herpes virus kills zoo polar bears | Virology News | Scoop.it

Conservation | When the polar bears started dying, nobody suspected the zebras.Jerka was the first. The 20-year-old polar bear was born in captivity, and had lived in Germany....

 

Which makes a nonsense of that sage old medical dictum: "When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don't expect to see a zebra"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebra_(medicine)

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Recent progress in henipavirus research: Molecular biology, genetic diversity, animal models

Recent progress in henipavirus research: Molecular biology, genetic diversity, animal models | Virology News | Scoop.it

"Nipah and Hendra virus are members of a newly identified genus of emerging paramyxoviruses, the henipaviruses. Both viruses have the ability to cause severe pulmonary infection and severe acute encephalitis. Following their discovery in the 1990s, outbreaks caused by these zoonotic paramyxoviruses have been associated with high public health and especially economic threat potential. Currently, only geographic groupings in Asia and Australia have been described for the henipaviruses. However, while few viral isolates are available and more detailed characterization is necessary, there has been recent evidence that divergent henipaviruses might be present on the African continent. This review endeavours to capture recent advances in the field of henipavirus research, with a focus on genome structure and replication mechanisms, reservoir hosts, genetic diversity, pathogenesis and animal models."

 

Thanks to @MicrobeTweets - and this is important stuff, because these viruses are emerging with a vengeance.

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Dallas declares virus emergency

Dallas declares virus emergency | Virology News | Scoop.it
A state of emergency is declared in Dallas as the city seeks to contain the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, which has claimed 14 lives in Texas.

At least 14 people have died after contracting the virus in the state so far this year.  Almost 700 cases have been reported across the country - the highest number since 2004.  Texas residents have been urged to use insect repellent and avoid going out at dusk and dawn.

 

Thanks to Guy Regnard.

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23 residents test positive for new influenza virus - Salem Leader

23 residents test positive for new influenza virus - Salem Leader | Virology News | Scoop.it
23 residents test positive for new influenza virusSalem LeaderTwenty-three individuals in Washington County have tested positive for H3N2v influenza virus, according to information provided Monday afternoon by Kenneth D.

 

And so it begins...possibly??

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