Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Describe How 1918 Influenza Virus Sample Was Exhumed In Alaska

Date:
July 4, 2007
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Summary:
In an article in the journal Antiviral Therapy, scientists at NIAID narrate the story of how scientists discovered samples of the 1918 strain in fixed autopsy tissues and in the body of a woman buried in the Alaskan permafrost. The article places this discovery in the context of decades of research into the cause of pandemic influenza, and the authors detail the strange convergence of events that allowed them to recover and sequence the virus in the first place.

Influenza viruses from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic recreated in the laboratory.
Credit: Image courtesy of Dr. Terrence Tumpey and Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The effort to find preserved samples of the 1918 influenza virus has been a pursuit of both historical and medical importance. The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most devastating single disease outbreak in modern history, and examining the virus that caused it may help prepare for, and possibly prevent, future pandemics. When the complete sequence of the 1918 virus was published in 2005, it represented a watershed event for influenza researchers worldwide.

In an article in the journal Antiviral Therapy, scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, narrate the story of how scientists discovered samples of the 1918 strain in fixed autopsy tissues and in the body of a woman buried in the Alaskan permafrost. The article places this discovery in the context of decades of research into the cause of pandemic influenza, and the authors detail the strange convergence of events that allowed them to recover and sequence the virus in the first place. Its genetic material is so fragile that it should not have survived for days, let alone decades.

In a mass grave in a remote Inuit village near the town of Brevig Mission, a large Inuit woman lay buried under more than six feet of ice and dirt for more than 75 years. The permafrost plus the woman's ample fat stores kept the virus in her lungs so well preserved that when a team of scientists exhumed her body in the late 1990s, they could recover enough viral RNA to sequence the 1918 strain in its entirety. This remarkable good fortune enabled these scientists to open a window onto a past pandemic--and perhaps gain a foothold for preventing a future one.

Reference: "Discovery and characterization of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus in historical context," by J Taubenberger, J Hultin and D Morens. "Spotlight on Respiratory Viruses" issue of Antiviral Therapy 12:581--591 (2007). Article available at http://www.intmedpress.com.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Scientists Describe How 1918 Influenza Virus Sample Was Exhumed In Alaska." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702145610.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2007, July 4). Scientists Describe How 1918 Influenza Virus Sample Was Exhumed In Alaska. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702145610.htm
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Scientists Describe How 1918 Influenza Virus Sample Was Exhumed In Alaska." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702145610.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins