Virology in the last 4 decades: Breakthroughs and Benefits

After more than 20 years Professor Ab Osterhaus will be handing the reigns of the department of Viroscience to Professor Marion Koopmans.

To honour him for his remarkable accomplishments during that time, and to mark the end of an era, we are pleased to announce a farewell symposium for him with the theme:

Virology in the last 4 decades: Breakthroughs and Benefits

This symposium will take place on Wednesday July 2, 2014 at WTC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Please visit our website:

We have an exciting scientific program with confirmed guest speakers such as Marian Horzinek, Christian Drosten, Malik Peiris, Ralph Baric, Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, Quentin Sattentau, Geoff Smith, Eric De Clercq, and Luigi Naldini, in addition – of course – to Marion Koopmans and Ab Osterhaus.

We hope to see you there!

Please click here to view the flyer

2014 ANTIGONE One Health Course


The 2014 ANTIGONE One Health Course will be organised by Universitätsklinikum Bonn on 15 -30 September

Course information
Emerging infectious pathogens reside in animal reservoirs and cause highly pathogenic diseases with
epidemic or epizootic potential if transmitted to humans or livestock. The emergence of new exotic pathogens
can be linked to changes in ecology and environment, human encroachment into primary ecosystems,
agricultural intensification, urbanization, global trade and travel, and socioeconomic factors. Arthropod-borne
pathogens are responsible for about one third of emerging infectious diseases. This course will focus on maintenance mechanisms, evolution and spread of vector-borne pathogens.

Course details
Summary: Immersion (lectures, practical training & excursions) in the multitude of disciplines that make up One Health
Goal: To help to equip the next generation of scientists with the holistic view required to deal with emerging infections
Target audience: Graduates from any discipline related to One Health
Time and place: 15th to 30th September 2014, Institute of Virology, University of Bonn, Germany
Fee: 350 to 2000 Euros; travel/ accommodation support for Antigone/ Emperie/ Predemics participants

Deadline for application: 20th June 2014; (

Course in Virology 2014


The department Viroscience of Erasmus MC organizes the Course in Virology every other year since 2002 under auspices of the Postgraduate School Molecular Medicine (MolMed). The course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of fundamental and translational virus research. The course in virology is organised for PhD students, post-docs and medical microbiologists, who are invited to participate. During the course, national and international experts in the field of virology will present seminars. Relevant literature will be made available at the start of the course.For more information about the Cours in Virology please click here

Researchers identify “airborne” H5N1 birdflu virus properties


New knowledge may help to prevent pandemics

Researchers at Erasmus MC Rotterdam have discovered which changes can make an H5N1 virus airborne transmissible. In the leading scientific journal Cell, they report today which combinations of mutations are responsible for virus transmission via the airways of mammals. They also identified the biological properties of the mutated virus. This is the first research into the genetic changes and the associated biological properties of the airborne transmissible H5N1 birdflu virus.

In previous work, the researchers discovered that the H5N1 birdflu virus required only few mutations to become airborne transmissible. Now, they identified which combinations of mutations are essential for virus transmission. Two mutations were found to improve the attachment of the virus to cells in the upper respiratory tract of mammals. A third mutation increased the stability of the virus, which is relevant for penetration of the cells. The two remaining mutations were responsible for subsequent efficient virus multiplication.

Some of these mutations can arise spontaneously when mammals become infected, and have already been found to occur in nature. ‘This means that the virus might evolve in nature to become transmissible via couching, sneezing, talking, or breathing. As a consequence, the H5N1 virus still represents a pandemic threat’, says virologist Ron Fouchier.

By increasing fundamental knowledge of virus transmission, it will be possible to improve surveillance programs and to identify potential pandemic threats as early as possible. In addition, the researchers will be able to better evaluate existing and new vaccines and drugs against a birdflu virus that is airborne transmissible between mammals.

The research was primarily funded through the EU FP7 programs ANTIGONE and EMPERIE and a contract with NIAID/NIH.  A link to the manuscript in Cell is here

11th HKU-Pasteur Virology Course on Emerging Viral Zoonoses: Call for Applications Open (Deadline 30 April 2014)


11th HKU-Pasteur Virology Course on Emerging Viral Zoonoses: Call for Applications Open (Deadline 30 April 2014)
We are happy to inform you about the 11th HKU-PASTEUR VIROLOGY COURSE (July 13-25, 2014). The Course will focus on Emerging Viral Zoonoses to continue our exploration of viruses and the animal/human interface. There is no need to over-emphasize the relevance of this topic, as two novel respiratory viruses, MERS-CoV and avian influenza H7N9 are making headlines around the world. The programme will address current concepts to understand the mechanisms underlying emergence and transmissibility of zoonotic viruses, with special emphasis on how zoonotic viruses can successfully cross species barriers.


For more information about thuis course please visit HKU-Pasteur:

Call for papers – NEW and EMERGING ZOONOSES

The journal “Epidemiology and Infection” intends to publish a Themed Issue on the topical and important subject of New and Emerging Zoonoses, which is the core interest of ANTIGONE. Researchers are invited to submit Original, Short or Review papers on this theme. Examples of subjects for papers  include emerging zoonosis aspects of influenza, MERS-CoV, Nipah, Schmallenberg, Henipah, Lyssa viruses, Echinococcosis , leptospirosis, and other infections on any aspect of this theme. Papers warning of possible emerging zoonotic infections and papers on risk factors associated with zoonosis emergence will also be welcome.

The co-editors for this issue will be Professor Dilys Morgan, Professor Katharina Stärk, and Professor Anthony Fooks, one of the principal investigators in the ANTIGONE Consortium. The planned date for paper publication is January 2015. Papers sent earlier, and accepted, will be published electronically several months earlier.

Papers should be submitted as soon as possible, and latest by 31 July 2014. Papers should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief in the usual way. All papers submitted will be assessed initially by one of the Co- Editors and if suitable, by independent reviewers.

Please ensure that all papers follow the Journal’s house style: journal titles must be in full in the reference list, use English spelling, and abstracts must not have sub-headings. What the paper adds to existing knowledge of the subject, and its potential usefulness, should be included in the Abstract. They should be clearly specified as being for the New and Emerging Zoonoses issue.

Instructions for contributors can be accessed on

Please note that the deadline for submission is: July 2014

Dromedaries infected with MERS-Coronavirus

dromedary 2dromedary 3Scientists from the Netherlands, the U.K., and Qatar proved for the first time that dromedary camels can be infected with MERS-coronavirus. In a study co-funded by ANTIGONE and Emperie—two E.C. FP7 projects—researchers detected RNA of MERS-coronavirus in three dromedaries at a location where two people also were infected with the virus. The study was published this week in Lancet Infectious Diseases (article).

The samples were collected at a small farm in Qatar. Two people with a link to this farm, the owner and a worker, were infected with MERS-coronavirus. Within a week, the farm was investigated by the Supreme Council of Health and the Ministry of the Environment in Qatar, in cooperation with the World Health Organisation. They collected samples from the 14 dromedaries present on the farm, and submitted them to the Erasmus MC and the State Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.

Genetic analysis showed that the MERS-coronavirus was present in three of the dromedaries. The viral RNA from these dromedaries was very similar to that from the two patients, who had been examined by researchers from Public Health England. All the dromedaries had antibodies to MERS-coronavirus, indicating that they had been infected with the virus and had mounted an immune response.

According to the authors, this is “definite proof that dromedaries can be infected with MERS-coronavirus”. However, they caution that “we cannot conclude whether people were infected by the animals, or vice versa. A third possibility is that both people and dromedaries were infected by another, as yet unknown source. For this it is important to know the precise temporal sequence of the infections, both in people and in dromedaries. We do not have that information for this outbreak.”

They added that “a more extensive analysis of this outbreak is ongoing, including testing of multiple animals and of the environment. We are also trying to obtain the complete genome of the MERS-coronaviruses from people and animals. We cannot exclude that other common domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep, or goats, or other animal species are involved in the spread of this virus. In the meantime, we recommend that outbreaks are monitored in detail. Such monitoring should include exposure to animals and animal products and specific serological examination in order to determine risk factors for human infection, other than contact with an infected person.”