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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic

Are We Looking In The Wrong Place For Next Nasty?

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    Posted: November 20 2018 at 12:54am
This mystery virus is back after being dormant for 50 years


Some scientists suggest that the Enterovirus 68 could cause lots of problems in the future

Enterovirus 68 is a lesser-known RNA virus - the same category as several of the world's most notorious pathogens like influenza, HIV and Ebola.

It was discovered in 1962, when four children in California fell sick with pneumonia. The virus is now known for having a tendency to affect children and teenagers.

Mild symptoms include a fever, coughing and sneezing, as well as body and muscle aches, although the more serious symptoms can include difficulty breathing.

Science journalist Zaria Gorvett recently explained: "Not all pandemics are caused by the obvious suspects.

"Though the media have us whipped up into a frenzy over a select cast of superstar pathogens, the villain in the next global drama may be lurking in the unlikeliest of places; perhaps it hasn't even been discovered yet."

Gorvett was responding to new research by scientists, who think they may know what the next deadly virus we should be keeping an eye on is.

So what is the virus? It's possible you haven't heard of the Enterovirus 68 yet - but maybe you will soon.

What is Enterovirus 68?

Enterovirus 68 is a lesser-known RNA virus, which take the characteristics of pandemic pathogens, such as being able to outsmart our immune systems and being very difficult to develop effective vaccines and anti-viral treatments against.

Mutations are common among RNA viruses, with variations constantly being created. The virus is known for a tendency to affect babies, children and teenagers

After laying low within the US population for decades, Enterovirus 68 has recently been more prevalent.

In 2014, for example, it was linked to an outbreak of a mysterious and polio-like condition which killed four people in the US.

Earlier this month, several more children in the same area unexpectedly fell ill, experiencing paralysis of their limbs.

The virus isn't confined to the States though, with reports of 38 confirmed cases in the UK last year.
How serious a threat is it?

"No one is suggesting that this particular virus is going to suddenly start killing millions of people, but it does satisfy all the criteria," explained Gorvett.

One such criteria being the final condition that it can infect the respiratory tract.

"These viruses are much harder to intervene upon, because breathing is an essential part of life and it’s very hard to stop people from breathing on each other," said Amesh Adalja, who recently led a team of scientists at John Hopkins University in a study of what the future holds for viruses.

"It’s not the same thing when you’re talking about blood or body fluids."

The study aimed to counteract contemporary fear over what viruses we should be watching out for. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing and - in serious cases - difficulty breathing

Adalja added: "People just kept taking lists [of potential concerns] that other people had made and adding to them, without any real rigour.

"Why is influenza at the top of the list? Why did we not think about Zika before 2016? And why did we not think about West Nile in the United States?"

According to the scientist, viruses like Enterovirus 68 are what we should be monitoring.

He explained: "This group has probably been grossly underestimated in terms of its pathogenicity.

"There’s no enterovirus vaccine, except for polio. And there are probably enteroviruses that we haven’t discovered yet."

Source:   https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/health/mystery-virus-back-after-being-15425787
Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
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