World Bulletin / News Desk
A virus that is very similar to the deadly Nipah and Hendra viruses has been discovered in fruit bats in Australia and researchers are hoping it can help them find ways to fight those highly dangerous cousins.
The Nipah virus kills 40-75 percent of the people it infects while the Hendra virus, which normally affects horses, kills more than 50 percent of the people it infects.
But the newly discovered Cedar virus, with 90 percent of its genes identical to those of Hendra and Nipah, failed to cause any disease when researchers injected it into rats, guinea pigs and ferrets, they wrote in a paper published on Friday in the journal PLoS Pathogens (Public Library of Science).
They are now comparing the DNA of all three viruses to tease out genes that are responsible for the deadliness of the Nipah and Hendra, said lead author Gary Crameri, at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's Australian Animal Health Laboratory.
"We have already done genetic analyses and identified those things that are different betweenHendra/Nipah and the Cedar," Crameri said in a telephone interview.
"Our plan now is to genetically engineer these viruses so we can take some parts of the Hendragenome that don't appear in Cedar but play some role in how deadly they are, put them into Cedar and then do infection trials with the new hybrid virus and see if it is as deadly."
Researchers hope to home in on the rogue genes to find cures for Nipah and Hendra, which are also found in bats.
"There is no secret that the pathogenicity of the Hendra and Nipah lie in their genes and this will help us narrow down some of the options. From there, we can start to think about therapeutic approaches, new drugs that we can use to target these viruses so that when people get infected, we can treat them, something we don't have now," Crameri said.
Bats are a natural reservoir for many viruses, including highly pathogenic ones like rabies, Ebola, SARS, Hendra and Nipah. Although Cedar appears not to cause any disease in the few animal species that researchers tested the virus on, it is not known if it causes disease in people.
A Nipah outbreak in 1998 killed at least 105 pig farmers in Malaysia and one abattoir worker inSingapore. There have been numerous outbreaks since in Bangladesh and India.
While the cases in Malaysia and Singapore were due to contact with infected pigs, the South Asian outbreaks were mostly due to consumption of raw date palm juice that had been contaminated with urine or droppings from infected fruit bats.
The Hendra virus kills 75 percent of the horses it infects. While it rarely jumps from horse to people, four of the 7 human cases recorded since 1994 in Australia have resulted in death.
'Meetings happened. Action didn’t,' says Medecins Sans Frontieres report.
WHO said that on many levels, the world is better prepared now than ever before for aflu pandemic
Myanmar health officals say an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Mandalay
Tokyo Electric said it has been aware since last spring that radiation levels in water running in one of the plant gutters rise when it rains
Safe drinking water is available at about one-third of the level it was before the conflict erupted nearly five years ago, and supplies are cut-off to punish civilians at times
Elephants in Angola, which suffered decades of civil war, have been observed avoiding heavily-mined areas, suggesting their trunks were warning them to stay away.
Favipiravir halved death rate among some to 15 pct, but WHO says more research required on drug
The first medicine containing stem cells to treat a rare condition caused by burns to the eye has approved.
940 parasite samplescollected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar and its border regions. They found that almost 40 percent of the samples had mutations in their so-called kelch gene, K13 -- a known genetic signal of artemisinin drug resistance.
Yaws is known to be prevalent in 12 countries in areas where people have little access to healthcare, mainly in West and Central Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
In the past few years, Nepal has seen the numbers of endangered species, such as the Royal Bengal tiger or the one-horned rhino, rise.
The investment would represent as little as 0.1 percent of current national health spending of the low and middle-income countries affected by NTD.
Nearly 1,000 abandoned California sea lions have washed ashore this year in what rehabilitation centers say is a growing crisis for the animals.
West Africa cases of Ebola show the first decrease in three weeks.
"Marijuana fools the brain's feeding system."scientist Tamas Horvath said.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced that a Filipina nurse who recently arrived in the country tested positive for the MERS Coronavirus.