A systematic approach to novel virus discovery in emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

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A systematic approach to novel virus discovery in emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

J Mol Diagn. 2015 May;17(3):230-41

Authors: Sridhar S, To KK, Chan JF, Lau SK, Woo PC, Yuen KY

Abstract
The discovery of novel viruses is of great importance to human health-both in the setting of emerging infectious disease outbreaks and in disease syndromes of unknown etiology. Despite the recent proliferation of many efficient virus discovery methods, careful selection of a combination of methods is important to demonstrate a novel virus, its clinical associations, and its relevance in a timely manner. The identification of a patient or an outbreak with distinctive clinical features and negative routine microbiological workup is often the starting point for virus hunting. This review appraises the roles of culture, electron microscopy, and nucleic acid detection-based methods in optimizing virus discovery. Cell culture is generally slow but may yield viable virus. Although the choice of cell line often involves trial and error, it may be guided by the clinical syndrome. Electron microscopy is insensitive but fast, and may provide morphological clues to choice of cell line or consensus primers for nucleic acid detection. Consensus primer PCR can be used to detect viruses that are closely related to known virus families. Random primer amplification and high-throughput sequencing can catch any virus genome but cannot yield an infectious virion for testing Koch postulates. A systematic approach that incorporates carefully chosen combinations of virus detection techniques is required for successful virus discovery.

PMID: 25746799 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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