New influenza virus discovered in Guatemalan fruit bats
Bat flu virus is not believed to present a threat to humans
A new influenza A virus discovered in fruit bats in Guatemala does not appear to present a current threat to humans, but should be studied as a potential source for human influenza, according to scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who worked with University of the Valley of Guatemala. The study was published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This is the first time an influenza virus has been identified in bats, but in its current form the virus is not a human health issue,” said Dr. Suxiang Tong, team lead of the Pathogen Discovery Program in CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases and lead author of the study. “The study is important because the research has identified a new animal species that may act as a source of flu viruses.”
For the bat influenza virus to infect humans, it would need to obtain some genetic properties of human influenza viruses. This can occur in nature through a process called reassortment. Reassortment occurs when two or more influenza viruses infect a single host cell, which allows the viruses to swap genetic information. Reassortment is a complicated chain of events that can sometimes lead to the emergence of new influenza viruses in humans. Preliminary CDC research on the new virus suggests that its genes are compatible with human influenza viruses.
“Fortunately, initial laboratory testing suggests the new virus would need to undergo significant changes to become capable of infecting and spreading easily among humans,” said Dr. Ruben Donis, chief of the Molecular Virology and Vaccines Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division and a study co–author. “A different animal – such as a pig, horse or dog –would need to be capable of being infected with both this new bat influenza virus and human influenza viruses for reassortment to occur.”
Bat influenza viruses are known only to infect little yellow–shouldered bats, which are common in Central and South America and are not native to the United States. CDC works with global disease experts to monitor influenza viruses that circulate in animals, which could affect humans. Previous pandemics of the 20th century, as well as the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, were caused by influenza viruses in animals that gained the ability to infect and spread easily in humans.
Leroy Z, Broder K, Menschik D, et al. Febrile seizures after 2010-11 influenza vaccine in young children, United States: a vaccine safety signal from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Vaccine 2012 Mar;30(11):2020-23 [Abstract]
During the 2010–2011 influenza season…..[CDC] conducted enhanced vaccine safety monitoring for possible febrile seizures in all trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) products in the United States using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)…….. On November 23, 2010, the combination of the coding term “febrile convulsion” and the Fluzone® TIV product exceeded a predetermined threshold in the VAERS database. By December 10, we confirmed 43 reports of febrile seizure following TIV in children aged 6–23 months. Clinical features of most reports were consistent with typical uncomplicated febrile seizures, and all children recovered….”
ATSDR’s Toxic Substances Web Portal – Feb 13 (CDC)
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) Toxic Substances Web Portal provides comprehensive access to the best science, the latest research, and important information about how toxic substances can affect health.
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