April 2015

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 21, No. 4, (April 2015)


The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the April 2015 issues of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature emerging viruses. The articles are embargoed until March 11, 2015, 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. Norovirus Genotype Profiles Associated with Foodborne Transmission, 1999–2012, Linda Verhoef, et al.

Worldwide, noroviruses are a leading cause of gastroenteritis (a condition with vomiting and diarrhea). Noroviruses can be transmitted directly from person to person or indirectly through contaminated food, water, or environments. Determining how the virus is being spread is crucial for finding the source and stopping the outbreak, but it is also difficult; during a single outbreak, the virus can be transmitted by several routes. To determine the percentage of norovirus outbreaks that originated with contaminated food worldwide, researchers compiled data from 3 international outbreak tracking systems and reviewed published articles. They analyzed information about norovirus transmission and the virus type responsible (norovirus genotypes and/or genogroups). Overall, they found that worldwide, about 14 percent of all norovirus outbreaks during the study period originated with contaminated food. This information can be helpful for estimating the global social and economic costs of foodborne norovirus illness.

Linda P.B. Verhoef
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, the Netherlands linda.verhoef@rivm.nl

2. Influenza A(H7N9) Virus Transmission between Finches and Poultry, Jeremy C. Jones, et al.

In spring 2013, novel avian influenza A(H7N9) viruses emerged in eastern China, infecting poultry and some people. Exactly how the virus is spread is unknown, but wild birds have been implicated. A recent study in which wild birds (finches) and poultry (chickens) were experimentally infected indicated that the virus spreads through contaminated water but not through air. Thus, interactions between wild birds, humans, and domesticated animals, especially those involving water, may contribute to the maintenance and spread of influenza A(H7N9) virus. In addition to the already identified risk factor of direct poultry contact, the handling of contaminated water (containing virus deposited by small birds or infected poultry) should be considered a risk factor for influenza virus transmission. 

Contact Robert Webster or Jeremy Jones via:
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Media Relations
Memphis, TN

3. Sequence Variability and Geographic Distribution of Lassa Virus, Sierra Leone, Tomasz A. Leski, et al.

Lassa virus causes hemorrhagic fever, which is often fatal; the virus is common in parts of West Africa, including Sierra Leone. Knowing the genetic makeup of the virus is crucial for developing vaccines, diagnostic tests, and possibly antiviral drugs. The virus is usually spread to people through contact with rodents or their excretions. To obtain a more complete and updated picture of the strains circulating in Sierra Leone, researchers isolated viruses from rodents collected from eight locations and examined the viruses at the genetic level. The viruses were more genetically diverse than expected, varying by location. The knowledge of genetic diversity of the virus may help in developing better methods of diagnosing, preventing, and treating Lassa virus infections.

Contact Tomasz Leski via:
Donna McKinney
Deputy Public Affairs Officer
Naval Research Laboratory
Public Affairs Office


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