CSIRO scientists have found a long line of viruses emerging from the viral family of the Hendra virus, first detected in Queensland in 1994.
CSIRO Livestock Industries scientists Dr Linfa Wang and Dr Bryan Eaton have this week published a review paper in Infectious Disease Review, describing the long line of viruses from Hendra's viral family, Paramyxoviridae that have cropped up around the world since 1962.
Fifteen new paramyxoviruses have been discovered in the past forty years in animal hosts ranging from dolphins, seals, snakes, rats, bats, to horses and humans,
Dr Wang says CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) is now the only institute in the world holding a collection of all major newly discovered paramyxoviruses. He predicts the collection will grow over the next decade.
"It is almost inevitable that new viruses will be discovered. This is a family of viruses where it is clear there are many more members out there that we don't know about yet," he says.
"These new viruses are important, because some are causing threats to public health, livestock production and trade, and many may also pose a risk to wild animals where populations have already been reduced by environmental destruction or other factors.
"AAHL's collection of paramyxoviruses and further comparative research puts us in a strong position to help diagnose and respond to the next emerging paramyxovirus," Dr Wang says.
"The genomic characterization of these new viruses has significantly expanded our knowledge about paramyxovirus evolution. A new virus genus has been established based on our recent studies, and several other viruses are yet to be classified."
Retrospective analysis by the team has identified some intriguing patterns.
CSIRO scientists have now completed deciphering the genetic code of two
viruses, one found in a Brazilian bat in 1979
Contact: Jason Major