Sunday, 2 February 2014

One Health Initiative is alive and well among Australian influenza specialists...

It struck me as really quite impressive how much influenza researchers (and a non-fluey ring-in like me) are already well aware of, and in some cases working on, the importance of animals in virus spread to humans. 

Admittedly, I'm a rhinovirus guy (or a metapneumovirus guy, or coronavirus guy, or an enterovirus guy, Saffold virus guy, parainfluenza virus 4 guy, a PCR guy...) not a flu guy, but 2/5 talks on Day 1 of the Influenza Specialist Group (ISG) Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) this afternoon included plenty of focus on poultry, wild and song birds, camels and even penguins! I did not know that penguins had H11N2 and the the nearest genetic matches were 50-years old!

And judging from the questions on my MERS-CoV and H7N9 talk (of which there were many - thanks to all!), its plain to the many experts in that room tonight that we still have a lot of data holes to plug in the story of H7N9 and MERS-CoV. Both virological and clinical gaps.

Also plain to me, was that I need to do some more reading about viral loads and clicnial outcomes in MERS and think a little more about whether our own hospital systems enhance the spread of viruses, as they may have done during SARS. Did the West see more of it because of its highly structured intensive care units concentrating cases ad funnelling infection at healthcare workers, or was it just that less developed nations didn't detect it's entry? Many interesting discussions tonight. Like the one about what to do you do with a problem like the rhinoviruses? Lots of detections in influenza-like illness (on a par or surpassing those due to influenza and respiratory syncytial virus), but also a chunk in controls. I know that you can't write off the 200 or so RVs as passengers just because they occur across the entire disease spectrum; all viruses do, its just that there are far fewer distinct members of any other given respiratory virus species you'd like to name. 

Really great to speak in front of a room full of people who already have their "spare time" filled with real research, still show an interest in how this sort of platform (the one you're reading now) can bring the message of influenza, or viruses in general, to others. 

  1. Influenza Specialists Group