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Published On: Thu, Jun 20th, 2013

New virus, cyclovirus-Vietnam, found in patients with severe brain infections

A team from Oxford University have discovered a novel virus found in some patients with severe infections in Vietnam, tentatively naming it cyclovirus-Vietnam [CyCV-VN].

The findings of the study, “Identification of a New Cyclovirus in Cerebrospinal Fluid of Patients with Acute Central Nervous System Infections” are  published in the most recent issue of  the American Society for Microbiology publication, mBio.

Human brain Image/NIH

Human brain
Image/NIH

According to the research, the novel cyclovirus was idenitified and genomically characterized  in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens of two Vietnamese patients with CNS infections of unknown etiology.

Using next-generation DNA sequencing techniques, the team sequenced the entire genetic material of the virus, confirming that it represents a new species that has not been isolated before. They found that it belongs to a family of viruses called the Circoviridae, which have previously only been associated with disease in animals, including birds and pigs, according to a Wellcome Trust release.

CyCV-VN was subsequently detected in 28 (4%) of 642 CSF specimens from Vietnamese patients with suspected CNS infections and none of 122 CSFs from patients with noninfectious neurological disorders.

‘We don’t yet know whether this virus is responsible for causing the serious brain infections we see in these patients, but finding an infectious agent like this in a normally sterile environment like the fluid around the brain is extremely important, said Dr Rogier van Doorn, Head of Emerging Infections at the Wellcome Trust Vietnam Research Programme and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Vietnam.

‘We need to understand the potential threat of this virus to human and animal health.’

Dr Le Van Tan of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam said: ‘The evidence so far seems to suggest that CyCV-VN may have crossed into humans from animals, another example of a potential zoonotic infection.

‘However, detecting the virus in human samples is not in itself sufficient evidence to prove that the virus is causing disease, particularly since the virus could also be detected in patients with other known viral or bacterial causes of brain infection.

‘While detection of this virus in the fluid around the brain is certainly remarkable, it could still be that it doesn’t cause any harm. Clearly we need to do more work to understand the role this virus may play in these severe infections.’

Acute central nervous system (CNS) infections cause substantial morbidity and mortality, but the etiology frequently remains unknown, which hampers development of therapeutic or preventive strategies, researchers said.

Brain infections can be caused by a range of bacterial, parasitic, fungal and viral agents. However, doctors fail to find the cause of the infection in more than half of cases despite extensive diagnostic efforts.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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