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

Robert Koch Foundation awarded 2013 Prize for Hospital Hygiene and Infection Prevention

The Robert Koch Foundation, Berlin, has set itself the goal of supporting the fight against infectious diseases and other epidemics. It promotes scientific work financially and by public recognition, especially fundamental research into infectious diseases, immunology and measures to solve medical and hygienic problems in the countries of the third world.

The Foundation awards one of the most prestigious medical commendations

The Robert Koch Award with prize money of 100,000 € is one of the most prestigious scientific commendations in Germany. It is awarded annually, under the patronage of the German Minister of Health, for outstanding and internationally recognised scientific achievements.

Prizewinner 2013 is Prof. Dr. Helge Karch. Please follow this link to read more

MERS-CoV in camels


Researchers searching for signs of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in livestock animals have found antibodies specific to the new virus in dromedary camels.  The research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, suggests that these animals have encountered MERS-CoV, or a closely related virus, and may be one reservoir of the virus that is causing MERS in humans.

While recent research has shown that MERS-CoV can replicate in cell lines taken from bats (which were thought to be the source of the 2002/03 SARS coronavirus outbreak), and is closely related to a bat coronavirus in circulation, it seems unlikely that the virus is transmitting directly from bats to humans, given the generally shy and nocturnal habits of these creatures.  However, given that human-to-human transmissibility of the virus appears to be rare, many researchers suspect that another animal reservoir for the virus exists.

An international  team of researchers led by Dr Chantal Reusken, of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, gathered 349 blood serum samples in total from a variety of livestock animals, including dromedary camels, cows, sheep, and goats, as well as from some animals closely related to dromedaries.  The animals were from a variety of different countries, including Oman, the Netherlands, Spain, and Chile, and the investigation is the first reported animal serological study for MERS-CoV.

The researchers analysed the blood serum samples for the presence of antibodies specific to MERS-CoV, as well as antibodies reactive to SARS coronavirus, and another strain of coronavirus labelled HCoV-OC43, which can also infect humans, and is closely related to a bovine form of the virus. The researchers found no evidence of cross-reactivity between antibodies for MERS-CoV  and those for SARS or HCoV-OC43, and confirmed their findings using highly-specific virus neutralisation tests.  The results suggest that the presence of MERS-CoV specific antibodies is likely to indicate previous infection with MERS-CoV, or a closely related virus, at some point in the animal’s history.

No MERS-CoV antibodies were found in blood serum taken from 160 cattle, sheep, and goats from the Netherlands and Spain.  However, antibodies specific to MERS-CoV were found in all fifty serum samples taken from dromedary camels in Oman.  The Oman samples originated from a number of different locations in the country, suggesting that MERS-CoV, or a very similar virus, is circulating widely in dromedary camels in the region.

Lower levels of MERS-CoV-specific antibodies were also found in 14% (15) of serum samples taken from two herds of dromedaries (105 camels in total) from the Canary Islands, not previously known to be a location where MERS-CoV is circulating.  No antibodies specific to the virus were detectable in tests on 34 animals closely related to the dromedary, such as Bactrian camel, alpaca, and llama sampled in the Netherlands and Chile.

According to the authors, “The dromedary camels that we tested from the Middle East (Oman) were more often positive and had much higher levels of antibodies to MERS-CoV than the dromedary camels from Spain.  The best way to explain this is that there is a MERS-CoV-like virus circulating in dromedary camels, but that the behaviour of this virus in the Middle East is somehow different to that in Spain.

As new human cases of MERS-CoV continue to emerge, without any clues about the sources of infection except for people who caught it from other patients, these new results suggest that dromedary camels may be one reservoir of the virus that is causing MERS-CoV in humans. Dromedary camels are a popular animal species in the Middle East, where they are used for racing, and also for meat and milk, so there are different types of contact of humans with these animals that could lead to transmission of a virus.

Research efforts now need to focus on well-designed animal studies in the Middle East, concentrating on finding the virus that triggers these antibodies in dromedaries, and comparing that with the virus from human cases.  This will need to be done not only through veterinary studies, but also by careful follow-up of new human patients, ensuring that as much information as possible is gathered about patients’ contacts with animals and animal products, such as camel milk.

Dr Vincent Munster, of NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, USA, writes in a linked Comment that, “Chantal Reusken and colleagues provide some insight into one potential animal reservoir that might be involved in the emergence of MERS-CoV in people—for the first time since the discovery of the virus a year ago…In the absence of prophylactic or therapeutic treatment options for MERS-CoV, blocking zoonotic and human-to-human transmission could be the most promising and cost-effective method to prevent further human fatalities. However, doing so requires knowledge of the virus’ hosts.  Although the study by Reusken and colleagues leaves many questions unanswered, it is an important step to a more comprehensive understanding of the emergence of MERS-CoV. Please click here to read the full article.


Is low pathogenic avian influenza virus virulent for wild waterbirds?


It is important to understand the epidemiology of influenza virus infection in wild waterbirds because they form the ultimate reservoir of influenza viruses infecting humans and domestic animals. One aspect of the epidemiology that is poorly known is the virulence—ability to cause disease—of influenza virus for wild waterbirds. Review of past studies, after taking into consideration major caveats, shows that influenza virus preferentially infects the intestinal tract of wild waterbirds, and that infection is correlated with lower body weight. Therefore, I hypothesize that influenza virus reduces digestive tract function of wild waterbirds, and suggest how to investigate this.

To view the paper we published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B please follow this link

One Health Course information available


The EU consortium ANTIGONE organizes a three-week course that will take place between 16 September and 4 October 2013 in Ciudad Real, Spain. This course is part of the project ANTIGONE, which is the acronym for ANTIcipating the Global Onset of Novel Epidemics, and is a European research network of 14 academic partners from seven European Member states.  Please click here to read more about this course.

Please note that registration for this One Health Course closes on 20 April 2013