World-renowned scientists are meeting today at the Emerging Infectious Diseases Symposium (EIDS2012), in Geelong, Victoria, to help improve our ability to protect people and animals from increasing biosecurity threats, such as Hendra virus and dengue fever.
The Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID) is hosting the two-day Symposium, which is bringing together the critical areas of One Health – a combined approach to animal, human and environmental health.
According to Professor Martyn Jeggo, the director of CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), emerging infectious diseases are a serious concern.
“In Australia we have seen the damage a Hendra virus outbreak can cause, and globally we witnessed the emergence of SARS and how rapidly it spread from animals to people, and then around the world,” Professor Jeggo said.
“This meeting is providing us with an opportunity to share research into new diagnostic tools, drivers for emergence of disease and innovative control strategies that will allow us to not only respond to disease outbreaks more effectively but explore ways to predict where and when the next pandemic might strike.”
One of the meeting highlights includes updates on the progress of Hendra virus research projects that were funded by the Intergovernmental Hendra Virus Taskforce in 2011, under the National Hendra Virus Research Program. This will include work on bat ecology, surveillance tools, pathogenesis and Hendra virus vaccines.
“While much of this research is in the early stages, we need to maintain and continue adding to the number of tools that we have to help effectively manage the risks from this devastating virus,” Professor Jeggo said.
Conference host GCEID is an innovative research partnership between CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Barwon Health and Deakin University focused on identifying, monitoring and developing treatments for new infectious diseases as they spread between animals and people.
To further promote effective national collaboration and coordination of emerging infectious disease research, scientists from CSIRO’s Biosecurity Flagship, along with representatives from GCEID, the Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Sydney Emerging Infections and Biosecurity Institute will present their work.
The following experts are among the EIDS2012 key note speakers:
- W. Ian Lipkin – Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and Professor of Neurology and Pathology at College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, USA
- Ralph Tripp – Centre for Disease Intervention, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, USA
- Ashley St John – Emerging Infectious Diseases Program, Duke National University of Singapore, Singapore.
For further information please visit the official website: EIDS2012 (Emerging Infectious Diseases Symposium) [wiki site].
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Australian scientists have discovered a new virus in bats that could help shed light on how Hendra and Nipah viruses cause disease and death in animals and humans.
The new virus – named ‘Cedar’ after the Queensland location where it was discovered – is a close relative of the deadly Hendra and Nipah viruses.
However, CSIRO’s initial studies have discovered one surprising key difference – the Cedar virus does not cause illness in several animal species normally susceptible to Hendra and Nipah.
This tantalising difference may help scientists understand how to better manage and control its deadly cousins. The findings have been announced today in the journal, PLoS Pathogens, publishedby the Public Library of Science.
Mr Gary Crameri, research scientist with the bat virus team at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Victoria, said the new discovery had significant potential implications for protecting animals and humans from the Hendra and Nipah viruses.
“The significance of discovering a new henipavirus that doesn’t cause disease is that it may help us narrow down what it is about the genetic makeup of viruses like Hendra and Nipah that does cause disease and death,” Mr Crameri said.
“The more that we can learn about bat-borne viruses, the better chance we have of developing anti-virals and vaccines to help protect human health, Australia’s livestock industry and our export trade from the threat of current and emerging animal diseases.
“Over 70 per cent of people and animals infected with Hendra and Nipah viruses die. This ranks henipaviruses amongst the deadliest viruses in existence, yet little is known about just how such viruses actually cause disease or death.”
It is still too early to rule out the possibility that Cedar virus may cause illness and death in horses or other animals.
The discovery was a result of a close partnership with Biosecurity Queensland which played an important role by collecting and screening samples from bat colonies across Queensland.
“Field work with bats is an essential part of research into identifying new viruses,” Dr Hume Field of Biosecurity Queensland said. “Bats are being implicated as the natural host of a growing number of viruses in Australia and overseas, yet they appear to tolerate infection themselves making bat research increasingly important.”
Bats have been identified as playing a role in the spread of viruses including Ebola, Marburg, SARS and Melaka yet they are an essential part of our diverse ecosystem through their role as pollinators, seed dispersers and insect regulators.
The discovery is part of ongoing research by CSIRO to target diseases that threaten our animals, people and the environment and is part of CSIRO’s wider biosecurity effort. It follows CSIRO’s development towards a horse vaccine against Hendra virus.
Pamela Tyers, CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
Mb: 0488 995 023 E: Pamela.Tyers@csiro.au