Toronto, July 26 (IANS) As Covid-19 physical distancing measures are being relaxed in many countries, there can be a resurgence of a childhood respiratory virus, researchers have warned.Cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have risen sharply in Australia and, more recently, in the US as pandemic public health measures have been relaxed.RSV affects the lower respiratory tract and can cause serious illness and death. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, about 2.7 million children worldwide were infected with RSV each year, and it was the fourth most common cause of death in young children."The off-season resurgence in seasonal respiratory viruses now potentially poses a threat to vulnerable infants," said Dr. Pascal Lavoie, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.During the Covid-19 pandemic, Canada, like other countries, has seen very few cases of RSV, with only 239 positive cases between August 29, 2020, and May 8, 2021, compared with 18,860 positive tests in a similar period the previous year (between August 25, 2019, and May 2, 2020). The virus seemed to disappear over the last year.However, an increased number of cases of RSV in Canada this summer, as in other jurisdictions, could stretch healthcare resources in pediatric intensive care units (ICUs). Most pregnant women and very young infants did not develop immunity in the previous season, so children may develop more severe illness this year.The researchers in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggested continued emphasis on handwashing and basic hygiene measures and other protective measures such as breastfeeding when possible; testing to confirm RSV when required; planning by pediatric ICUs to manage increases in severe RSV cases and administering preventive treatment to highest-risk infants if cases increase.While the levels of influenza and other non-Covid respiratory viruses were at historic lows during most of 2020 in the US, the virus causing common cold is having an out-of-season resurgence in 2021, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).According to the experts the protective measures people took against Covid-19 -- masking, distancing -- suppressed the virus."Clinicians should be aware that respiratory viruses might not exhibit typical seasonal circulation patterns and that a resumption of circulation of certain respiratory viruses is occurring," the CDC report said.--IANSrvt/dpb
New York, July 21 (IANS) Scientists have found viruses nearly 15,000-years-old in two ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau in China. Most of those viruses, which survived because they had remained frozen, are unlike any viruses that have been cataloged to date.
The findings, published in the journal Microbiome, may help understand how viruses have evolved over centuries. For this study, the scientists also created a new, ultra-clean method of analysing microbes and viruses in ice without contaminating it.
"These glaciers were formed gradually, and along with dust and gases, many, many viruses were also deposited in that ice," said lead author Zhi-Ping Zhong, a researcher at The Ohio State University's Byrd Polar and Climate Research Centre who also focuses on microbiology.
"The glaciers in western China are not well-studied, and our goal is to use this information to reflect past environments. And viruses are a part of those environments," Zhong added.
The team analysed ice cores taken in 2015 from the Guliya ice cap in western China. The cores are collected at high altitudes -- the summit of Guliya, where this ice originated, is 22,000 feet above sea level.
When they analysed the ice, they found genetic codes for 33 viruses. Four of those viruses have already been identified by the scientific community. But at least 28 of them are novel. About half of them seemed to have survived at the time they were frozen not in spite of the ice, but because of it.
"These are viruses that would have thrived in extreme environments," said Matthew Sullivan, Professor of microbiology at Ohio State.
"These viruses have signatures of genes that help them infect cells in cold environments -- just surreal genetic signatures for how a virus is able to survive in extreme conditions," he added.
Four of the viruses in the Guliya ice cap cores had previously been identified and were from virus families that typically infect bacteria. The researchers found the viruses in concentrations much lower than have been found to exist in oceans or soil.
The analysis showed that the viruses likely originated with soil or plants, not with animals or humans, based on both the environment and the databases of known viruses.
London, June 21 (IANS) British scientists have warned of a "pretty miserable winter" in the UK this year due to new respiratory viruses likely to emerge, with further lockdowns a possibility.Professor Calum Semple, member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said that children and elderly people will be especially vulnerable to endemic viruses at the end of the year, Xinhua news agency reported.Describing it as the "fourth wave winter", he told Times Radio on Sunday "there's a sting in the tail after every pandemic" because social distancing will have reduced people's exposure to usual endemic respiratory viruses such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis."I suspect we'll have a pretty miserable winter because the other respiratory viruses are going to come back and bite us quite hard," he said. "But after that, I think we'll be seeing business as normal next year."Meanwhile, Susan Hopkins, Public Health England's director for Covid-19, warned "we may have to do further lockdowns this winter" depending on whether hospitals start to become overwhelmed."I think we will have alternative ways to manage this, through vaccination, through anti-virals, through drugs, through testing that we didn't have last winter," she told the BBC.Scientists have warned that a third wave of coronavirus infections is "definitely underway" in England due to the fast spread of the Delta variant, even though hospital admissions will hopefully not be on the same scale as in January.The recent data published by Public Health England showed the AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 per cent effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant after two doses, and the Pfizer vaccine is 96 per cent effective after two doses.More than 42.6 million people have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine while more than 31 million people have been fully vaccinated with a second dose, according to the latest official figures.--IANSksk/
London, June 21 (IANS) British scientists on Sunday warned of "pretty miserable winter" ahead for the country due to likely emergence of new respiratory viruses, with further lockdowns a possibility.Professor Calum Semple, member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), a British government advisory body, said that children and elderly people will be especially vulnerable to endemic viruses at the end of the year, Xinhua reported.Describing it as the "fourth wave winter," he told Times Radio "there's a sting in the tail after every pandemic" because social distancing will have reduced people's exposure to usual endemic respiratory viruses such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis."I suspect we'll have a pretty miserable winter because the other respiratory viruses are going to come back and bite us quite hard," he said. "But after that, I think we'll be seeing business as normal next year."Meanwhile, Susan Hopkins, Public Health England's director for COVID-19, warned "we may have to do further lockdowns this winter" depending on whether hospitals start to become overwhelmed."I think we will have alternative ways to manage this, through vaccination, through anti-virals, through drugs, through testing that we didn't have last winter," she told the BBC.Scientists have warned that a third wave of coronavirus infections is "definitely under way" in England due to the fast spread of the Delta variant first identified in India, even though hospital admissions will hopefully not be on the same scale as in January.The recent data published by Public Health England showed the AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 percent effective against hospitalization from the Delta variant after two doses, and the Pfizer vaccine, 96 percent effective.More than 42.6 million people have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine while more than 31 million people have been fully vaccinated with a second dose, according to the latest official figures.Experts have warned that coronavirus may continue to evolve for years to come, and eventually it is likely current vaccines will fail to protect against transmission, infection, or even against disease caused by newer variants.--IANSint/pgh
Bern, June 17 (IANS) Bats in Switzerland are harbouring viruses from 39 different viral families and some have the potential to jump to other animals, including humans and cause disease, researchers have found.Monitoring the viruses harboured by bats around the world could improve understanding and detection of those that pose risk to humans, and better prepare the world for another such pandemic.While previous research has investigated viruses carried by bats in several different countries, none have focused on Switzerland.Researchers from the University of Zurich investigated viruses carried by more than 7,000 bats living in Switzerland. These bats belonged to 18 species of stationary and migratory bats. Specifically, they analysed DNA and RNA sequences of viruses found in organ, fecal, or stool samples collected from the bats.The genomic analysis revealed the presence of 39 different families of viruses, including 16 families previously found to be able to infect other vertebrates, and which therefore could potentially be transmitted to other animals or humans.Further analysis of viruses with this risk revealed that one of the studied bat colonies harboured a near-complete genome of a virus known as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-related coronavirus (CoV).While the MERS-CoV-related virus is not known to cause disease in humans, MERS-CoV has been responsible for an epidemic in 2012. These findings are published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE."Metagenomic analysis of bats endemic to Switzerland reveals broad virus genome diversity. Virus genomes from 39 different virus families were detected, 16 of which are know to infect vertebrates, including coronaviruses, adenoviruses, hepeviruses, rotaviruses A and H, and parvoviruses," said the team including Isabelle Hardmeier from the varsity's Institute of Virology.The researchers noted that genomic analysis of bat stool samples could be a useful tool to continuously monitor viruses harboured by bats, including the MERS-CoV-related virus. This type of tracking could potentially detect accumulations of viral genetic mutations that could increase the risk of transmission to other animals, enabling earlier detection of viruses that pose danger to humans.While there are few known instances of disease-causing viruses jumping directly from bats to humans, some viruses carried by bats may jump to other animals and then become transmitted to humans. SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, is also debated to have originated from a virus that was transmitted from a bat to another animal before infecting humans.--IANSrvt/dpb
Singapore, June 9 (IANS) Scientists from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a reusable "nanotech mask" that can block 99.9 per cent of bacteria, viruses and particulate matter (PM), as well as kill germs in just 45 seconds, much effective against Covid-19 than the currently used N95 masks.The mask's novel antimicrobial coating is effective for at least six days and its filtration efficiency surpasses those of N95 masks with 95 per cent filtration of PM0.3.The new masks can also be washed and reused over 10 times, making it more sustainable than conventional disposable masks, but just as easy to breathe in.The nanotech mask is made with two key components: an antimicrobial coating made from copper nanoparticles and coated on a non-woven fabric mask which has a unique static-electricity property that draws and traps all nanoparticles and germs.Both are the two most desired properties needed to fight Covid-19, into a single filter, said Professor Lam Yeng Ming, Chair of NTU's School of Materials Science and Engineering."In experiments, our copper nanoparticle coating has an extremely fast and sustained antibacterial activity, with a killing efficiency of up to 99.9 per cent when it meets multidrug resistant bacteria. This coating will help to reduce the spread of bacteria as it kills microbes in droplets trapped by the mask fibres, which provide excellent filtration efficiency. This should give users a double layer of protection compared to conventional surgical masks," Lam saidIn experiments, the mask was able to attract and trap a broad range of particulate matter: from PM10 (average particle size of 10 microns) to PM0.3 (0.3 microns - about 0.3 per cent or the diameter of a human hair) with a filtration efficiency of 99.9 per cent.The nanoparticles are also bonded to the fibres within the mask, so there is no contact with human skin when the mask is worn."With our new composite filter, we can achieve up to 99.9 per cent BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency), trapping almost all microbes and particulate matter from smoke or haze. Its filtration efficiency surpasses a N95 mask but allows the wearer to breathe much easier," said Liu Zheng, Associate Professor at the varsity.--IANSrvt/vd