Category Archives: Virology

INCLUDES Measles; Smallpox; Virus genotyping; Hepatitis – all; Waterborne virus (Norovirus, Rotavirus), population health, communicable diseases, gastrointestinal disease outbreaks.
EXCLUDES Lyssavirus, Hendra, Influenza or Vectorborne diseases

Search technique helps researchers find DNA sequences in minutes rather than days

(Carnegie Mellon University 8 February 2016) Database searches for DNA sequences that can take biologists and medical researchers days can now be completed in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new search method developed by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University.

The SBT method is available as open source code and can be downloaded at

Read EurekAlert Summary

Request the source article from Information & Research Services (QH Staff only)

First reported autopsy of patient with MERS coronavirus infection provides critical insights

(Elsevier Health Sciences 5 February 2016) Since 2012, at least 1,500 individuals have developed Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), resulting in more than 500 fatalities. Only now are results being reported of the first autopsy of a MERS patient, which was performed in 2014. Not only do these findings provide unprecedented, clinically-relevant insights about how MERS progresses, they challenge previously accepted ideas about MERS and the relevance of current animal models.

Read EurekAlert Summary

View full-text article (QH Staff only)


The Conversation: Zika articles, 4-5 Feb 2016

Explainer: what is microcephaly and what is its relationship to Zika virus? Lyn Gilbert February 5, 2016
This week the World Health Organisation declared Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern.
Despite high rates of infection, the outbreak would not have been particularly alarming – since the infection is usually asymptomatic (80% of cases) or mild and self-limiting – had it not been for the sudden and (apparently associated) increase in numbers of infants born with microcephaly.
Read more:

Zika, dengue, yellow fever: what are flaviviruses?
Jason Mackenzie February 5, 2016
You might have heard the term flavivirus recently due to the outbreak of Zika virus in Central and South America. Zika, along with West Nile virus, dengue, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis, belongs to this family of virus – of which many are threats to public health.
Flaviviruses are defined by the shape and size of the virus particle (which is extremely small and not visible by the naked eye but requires a high powered electron microscope). They are able to replicate and spread within both insects and mammals, and they infect humans and domesticated animals.
Read more:

Zika via sex and blood: how worried should we be?
Beverley Paterson February 4, 2016
For a fairly non-descript virus, Zika continues to surprise us. Zika has hit the headlines yet again with the news that there’s been transmission in Brazil of two cases by blood transfusion.
This is on top of the recent news about sexual transmission of the virus in the United States. Zika is a “vector-borne” virus – that is, it is transmitted by a vector, in this case a mosquito. In general, you need to get bitten by an infected mosquito before you can be infected by Zika. At least that’s what we thought.
Read more:

Explainer: what is Guillain-Barré syndrome and is it caused by the Zika virus? Steven Maltby February 4, 2016
The recent outbreak of Zika virus in South America has been a cause of concern. This is not because Zika itself is a serious condition, but because it is believed to be linked to birth defects when expectant mothers are infected, and to a rare but severe and progressive neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The syndrome is triggered by an infection and can cause temporary or long-term paralysis. It is quite rare, occurring in approximately one in 100,000 people per year.
Read more:




Herberton Hospital deaths: Disease control questioned amid hMPV outbreak

ABC News Jesse Dorsett 5 February 2016

Families of patients who have died amid a respiratory viral outbreak at far north Queensland’s Herberton Hospital say it has poor infectious disease controls.
Seven people have died at the 36-bed facility this year; one tested positive for human metapneumovirus (hMPV) while the others displayed symptoms, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital Service said.
The coroner is investigating who out of the seven died with the virus.
Another four in the hospital are also showing symptoms.

Read more

From Ebola to Zika, tiny mobile lab gives real-time DNA data on outbreaks

The Guardian Australia Lisa O’Carroll 4 February 2016

A genomic surveillance system which fits in a suitcase can help health workers to quickly understand the spread of viruses and break the chain of infection.
A revolutionary DNA sequencing instrument which could help break the chain of transmission of viruses such as Ebola and Zika has been developed by British scientists.
It can help identify mutations in viruses in real time, allowing health workers in emergencies to quickly establish the evolution and geographical journey of the virus through communities.
The pocket-sized MinION device was developed by an Oxfordshire science company, and results published on Wednesday in the journal Nature show it was able to help identify the unique genetic sequence of the Ebola virus in patients within 24 hours.

Read more:

Link to Nature article:

Herberton Hospital human metapneumovirus outbreak: Coroner probes seven deaths

Brisbane Times/AAP Jorge Branco February 4, 2016

Seven people have died in little more than a month at a small far north Queensland aged-care facility under investigation for the deadly outbreak of a flu-like illness.
In late January, authorities confirmed four elderly patients at the Herberton Hospital on the Atherton Tableland had died after contracting the respiratory illness human metapneumovirus (hMPV).
On Wednesday, Cairns Hospital and Health Service chief executive Julie Hartley-Jones announced seven patients had died at the 36-bed facility this year but said it appeared “not all of these” were caused by the virus.
“One of those who died tested positive to the virus, while several others displayed symptoms consistent with the virus,” she said in a statement.

Read more:

New tool puts accurate DNA analysis in fast lane

(Rice University 19 January 2016) Rice University scientists have developed a tool to analyze the thermal behavior of DNA and RNA strands. It could speed the design of molecular diagnostics that positively identify disease subtypes to inform optimal treatment.

Read EurekAlert Summary

View full-text open-access article