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June 2014

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 20, No. 6, (June 2014)


The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the June 2014 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature respiratory infections. The articles are embargoed until May 14, 2014, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Note: Not all articles published in EID represent work done at CDC. In your stories, please clarify whether a study was conducted by CDC (“a CDC study”) or by another institution (“a study published by CDC”). The opinions expressed by authors contributing to EID do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CDC or the institutions with which the authors are affiliated.

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1. Novel Phlebovirus with Zoonotic Potential Isolated from Ticks, Australia, Jianning Wang et al.

Phleboviruses can cause disease in animals, including humans, and are spread by sandflies, mosquitoes, and ticks. In 2009, outbreaks of phlebovirus infection occurred among people who had been bitten by ticks in China and in the United States; some patients died. The viruses were genetically similar but not identical. Given that these similar tick-borne viruses were found on two well-separated continents (Asia and North America), researchers explored whether similar viruses existed in ticks on other continents. In 2011, they used new technology to examine the virus responsible for a 2002 disease outbreak among albatross in Australia and found that it indeed was another tick-borne phlebovirus. This finding suggests that genetically related phleboviruses are widely distributed throughout the world. Increased tracking should help determine the public health risks posed by these emerging viruses.

Lin-Fa Wang
CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Science, Australian Animal Health Laboratory

2. Genetic Evidence of Drug-Resistant Malarial Strain from the Democratic Republic of the Congo Imported to Guatemala, Jaymin C. Patel, et al.

In Guatemala, rates of malaria transmission are low. Therefore, an outbreak in 2010 that occurred among 12 soldiers shortly after they returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was unexpected. Genetic analysis indicated that the soldiers were infected with malaria parasites more closely related to those from the DRC than from Guatemala.  Thus, the soldiers probably became infected with these drug-resistant parasites while in the DRC and then imported them into Guatemala. Genetic analysis is useful for investigating outbreaks of drug-resistant malaria that could broadly undermine malaria treatment policies in Central America.

Jaymin C. Patel
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC USA

3. Zika Virus, French Polynesia, South Pacific, 2013, Van-Mai Cao-Lormeau, et al.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that causes disease hard to distinguish from dengue. For the last half century, Zika virus has been limited to Africa and Asia. But in 2007, an outbreak occurred in the North Pacific, and in 2013 in the South Pacific (French Polynesia). Of an estimated 19,000 suspected cases in French Polynesia, 294 cases were confirmed by laboratory testing. Genetic analysis indicates that the virus probably originated in Asia, but the timing of its arrival in French Polynesia remains unknown. Because several mosquito strains in French Polynesia are capable of carrying and spreading Zika virus, the potential exists for future epidemics.

Van-Mai Cao-Lormeau
Institut Louis Malardé, Tahiti, French Polynesia

4. Dengue Virus Type 3, South Pacific Islands, 2013, Van-Mai Cao-Lormeau, et al.

The immunopathology of dengue is very complex and not fully understood. Dengue is caused by any of 4 closely related viruses, or serotypes: dengue serotypes 1–4. Infection with one serotype does not protect against the others. After an 18-year absence, dengue virus serotype 3 has reemerged in the South Pacific. In this region, typically only one dengue virus serotype circulates at a time. As a result, immunity against the circulating serotype develops while immunity against non-circulating serotypes wanes. Because this serotype had not circulated since 1996, re-emergence of and lack of immunity to serotype 3 was expected. What was not expected, however, was that different genotypes of serotype 3 would emerge across the region, genotype III (from South America) in the eastern islands and genotype I (from Southeast Asia) in the western islands. This introduction of multiple genotypes but only one serotype suggests that immune susceptibility to serotype, rather than genotype, determined this virus reemergence.

Van-Mai Cao-Lormeau
Institut Louis Malardé, Tahiti, French Polynesia