Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tracking Influenza's Every Movement

Date:
May 22, 2008
Source:
Santa Fe Institute
Summary:
Analysis of approximately 13,000 human influenza A viruses from six continents 2002--2007 revealed continuous circulation in east/southeast Asia via a regional network of temporally overlapping epidemics and that epidemics in the temperate regions were seeded from this network each year. If the trends are an accurate representation of overall patterns, then the antigenic characteristics of A viruses outside Asia may be forecast each year based on surveillance within Asia, with consequent improvements to vaccine strain selection.

It's the case of the missing flu virus. When the flu isn't making people sick, it seems to just vanish. Yet, every year, everywhere on Earth, it reappears in the appropriate season and starts its attack. So where does it go when it disappears? Does it hibernate, lying dormant in a few people and preparing for its next onslaught? Does it bounce around from the Northern hemisphere to the Southern hemisphere and back, following the seasons?

Neither, it turns out. The virus's breeding grounds are in Asia, a crew of virus-hunters has found, and it then teems out to take over the world anew each year. New varieties almost always evolve in Asia and then hitch a ride with travelers, spreading to Europe, Australia and North America and finally to South America, where they die away.

The work may make the flu vaccine even better than it already is. Because the flu virus is constantly evolving, scientists meet at the World Health Organization twice a year to decide whether to update the vaccine. Their job is made harder because they have to decide on a formulation a year in advance of when the flu will actually hit, to allow time for the vaccine to be manufactured and administered. So they have to predict which of the strains of flu virus are going to be causing the most disease a year down the line.

"In order to try to predict how flu viruses might evolve, we have to understand how they're moving around the world and where they're evolving," says Derek Smith, now of the University of Cambridge and formerly of the Santa Fe Institute, corresponding author of the research. Asia, the study suggests, is the best place to look for up-and-coming strains.

The team traced the virus's steps by studying 13,000 flu samples from around the world. The World Health Organization Global Influenza Surveillance Network collected this data between 2002 and 2007, keeping track of when and where different strains of the virus popped up. They analyzed the shape differences between the proteins each virus uses to bind to human cells, along with the genetic makeup of each virus.

The team used this information to create an "antigenic map" which visually shows the relationships between all the different viruses. This map allowed them to determine the migration patterns of the virus around the world.

"This work is highly multidisciplinary, with epidemiologists, computer scientists, computational biologists, mathematicians, virologists, immunologists, geneticists, veterinarians, and MDs," Smith says.

The work was funded by an NIH Director's Pioneer Award to Smith given for highly innovative research that has the potential for big impacts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Santa Fe Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Russell et al. The Global Circulation of Seasonal Influenza A (H3N2) Viruses. Science 18 April 2008: 340-346 DOI: 10.1126/science.1154137 [link]

Cite This Page:

Santa Fe Institute. "Tracking Influenza's Every Movement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080519165939.htm>.
Santa Fe Institute. (2008, May 22). Tracking Influenza's Every Movement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080519165939.htm
Santa Fe Institute. "Tracking Influenza's Every Movement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080519165939.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
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