Policy ForumInfectious Diseases

The Global Virome Project

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Science  23 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6378, pp. 872-874
DOI: 10.1126/science.aap7463

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  • RE: The claim that Bas-Congo virus killed two children should not be used to justify the Global Virome Project
    • Luis Branco, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Zalgen Labs
    • Other Contributors:
      • Robert Garry, Professor/Assistant Dean, Tulane University

    The Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) PREDICT program has discovered only one new human virus. They claim that Bas-Congo virus (BASV) was involved in a human disease outbreak (1). This claim is dubious.

    Genomic RNA of BASV was sequenced from a blood sample drawn in 2009 from a nurse living in Mangala in Bas-Congo (now Kongo Central) province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2,3). The nurse, who showed symptoms of a hemorrhagic fever, had cared for two children aged 13 and 15 who died with similar symptoms.

    Criteria for proving disease causation date to the 19th century postulates of Koch, Henle and Loeffler (4-6). BASV sequences were identified from only one case, the nurse in Mangala. BASV has not been isolated, expressed by molecular cloning or propagated in cell culture, nor has BASV been shown to cause any disease in an animal.

    Direct evident exists that another agent caused the hemorrhagic fevers in Bas-Congo in 2009. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported 121 cases of hemorrhagic diarrhea with fever in Bas-Congo in the weeks prior to and after the deaths of the two children. All sick individuals in Mangala were likely infected with Shigella, which was detected in some cases. The nurse responded rapidly to antibiotic treatment.

    There have been no reports of human disease associated with BASV or other tibroviruses since 2009. However, tibroviruses have been reported to make harmless incursions into humans (7) and cattle (8). The Inter...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Permafrost viruses can be emerging threat to public health.
    • Ranjeet Singh Mahla, PhD student, IISER Bhopal India
    • Other Contributors:
      • Sarita Kumari, Student, Barkatullah University Bhopal

    Permafrost viruses can be new threat
    Learning the lesion from historical viral pandemics and epidemics outbreak, public health community prerequisites to recognize etiology of emerging viruses 1,2. Viral Genome Project (VGP) aiming to identify vast pool of viruses from reservoir animal species can be the stepping stone to deal with unforeseen emergencies of permafrost viruses 2. There are thousands of new virus species, frozen deep within thick ice sheet of glaciers, can awake again in life forms 3. Public health community along with environmental scientist should take a global initiative to discover these emerging viruses and shield them away from animal reservoirs encountering to human.

    References
    (1) J. K. Taubenberger and D. M. Morens (2006), 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics, Emerg Infect Dis: 12(1): 15-22
    (2) (2) D. Carroll, P. Daszak, N.D. Wolfe, G. F. Gao, C. M. Morel, S. Morzaria, A. Pablos-Méndez, O. Tomori, J. A. K. Mazet (2018), The Global Virome Project, Science: 359(6378): 872-874.
    (3) (3) http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170504-there-are-diseases-hidden-in-ice...

    Competing Interests: None declared.