Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Newly discovered virus implicated in deadly Chinese outbreaks

Date:
March 22, 2011
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
Outbreaks of a mysterious and deadly disease in central China have been linked to a previously unknown virus. Five years ago, large numbers of farmers in central China began falling victim to an mysterious disease marked by high fever, gastrointestinal disorder and an appalling mortality rate -- as high as 30 percent in initial reports.

Outbreaks of a mysterious and deadly disease in central China have been linked to a previously unknown virus. Five years ago, large numbers of farmers in central China began falling victim to an mysterious disease marked by high fever, gastrointestinal disorder and an appalling mortality rate -- as high as 30 percent in initial reports.

Investigators from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention hurried to the scene of the outbreak. On the basis of DNA evidence, they quickly concluded that it had been caused by human granulocytic anaplasmosis, a bacteria transmitted by tick bites.

Now, though, subsequent studies have shown that original conclusion was incorrect, and that a previously unknown and dangerous virus has been responsible for seasonal outbreaks of the disease in six of China's most populated provinces.

"We expected to find a bacterial infection behaving in an unexpected way -- human anaplasmosis has a less than one percent fatality rate in the U.S., and it rarely causes abdominal pain or vomiting or diarrhea," said Dr. Xue-Jie Yu of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, lead author of a paper on the discovery now appearing in the "online advance" section of the New England Journal of Medicine. "Instead, we found an unknown virus."

Researchers have dubbed the newly discovered pathogen Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome virus, and placed it in the Bunyaviridae family, along with the hantaviruses and Rift Valley Fever virus. Later investigation has placed its mortality rate at 12 percent, still alarmingly high.

Yu, a specialist in tick-borne bacteria like the species responsible for HGA, first suspected that a virus might be responsible for the outbreaks after close examination of patients' clinical data showed big differences from symptoms produced by HGA, and blood sera drawn from patients revealed no HGA or HGA antibodies.

Yu became certain that a virus was at fault after sera taken from patients retained its ability to kill cells, despite being passed through a filter that blocked all bacteria. Still, initial genetic tests failed to generate a match with a known pathogen.

"Clearly, we had a virus, but what virus?" Yu said. "I told the people I was working with that they needed to be even more careful, because we were working with an unknown."

That caution seemed appropriate when electron microscope studies of deactivated virus particles revealed what appeared to be a hantavirus -- associated in Asia with hemorrhagic fever and in the Americas with a deadly pulmonary syndrome. But when Yu and his colleagues managed to extract the virus' entire genetic code, they found that it didn't match any other known virus.

When researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention led by study author Dr. Yu Wang analyzed sera taken from 241 symptomatic patients from Henan, Hubei, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu and Liaoning provinces, they found 171 contained either the previously unknown virus itself or antibodies against it. In addition, the scientists found the virus in 10 out of 186 ticks collected from farm animals in the area where the patients lived.

"This seems to be a tick-borne disease, and the disease comes out when the ticks come out, from late March to late July," Yu said. "Fortunately, even though the full life cycle is not clear, we know that for the virus humans are a dead end -- we don't have human-to-human transmission as we did with SARS."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xue-Jie Yu, Mi-Fang Liang, Shou-Yin Zhang, Yan Liu, Jian-Dong Li, Yu-Lan Sun, Lihong Zhang M.D., Quan-Fu Zhang, Vsevolod L. Popov, Chuan Li, Jing Qu, Qun Li, Yan-Ping Zhang, Rong Hai, Wei Wu, Qin Wang, Fa-Xian Zhan, Xian-Jun Wang, Biao Kan, Shi-Wen Wang, Kang-Lin Wan, Huai-Qi Jing, Jin-Xin Lu, Wen-Wu Yin, Hang Zhou, Xu-Hua Guan, Jia-Fa Liu, Zhen-Qiang Bi, Guo-Hua Liu, Jun Ren, Hua Wang, Zhuo Zhao, Jing-Dong Song, Jin-Rong He, Tao Wan, Jing-Shan Zhang, Xiu-Ping Fu, Li-Na Sun, Xiao-Ping Dong, Zi-Jian Feng, Wei-Zhong Yang, Tao Hong, Yu Zhang, David H. Walker, Yu Wang, De-Xin Li. Fever with Thrombocytopenia Associated with a Novel Bunyavirus in China. New England Journal of Medicine, 2011; 110316140320097 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1010095

Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Newly discovered virus implicated in deadly Chinese outbreaks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151304.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2011, March 22). Newly discovered virus implicated in deadly Chinese outbreaks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151304.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Newly discovered virus implicated in deadly Chinese outbreaks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151304.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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