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      Human viruses: discovery and emergence

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          Abstract

          There are 219 virus species that are known to be able to infect humans. The first of these to be discovered was yellow fever virus in 1901, and three to four new species are still being found every year. Extrapolation of the discovery curve suggests that there is still a substantial pool of undiscovered human virus species, although an apparent slow-down in the rate of discovery of species from different families may indicate bounds to the potential range of diversity. More than two-thirds of human viruses can also infect non-human hosts, mainly mammals, and sometimes birds. Many specialist human viruses also have mammalian or avian origins. Indeed, a substantial proportion of mammalian viruses may be capable of crossing the species barrier into humans, although only around half of these are capable of being transmitted by humans and around half again of transmitting well enough to cause major outbreaks. A few possible predictors of species jumps can be identified, including the use of phylogenetically conserved cell receptors. It seems almost inevitable that new human viruses will continue to emerge, mainly from other mammals and birds, for the foreseeable future. For this reason, an effective global surveillance system for novel viruses is needed.

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          Most cited references 48

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          Cloning of a human parvovirus by molecular screening of respiratory tract samples.

          The identification of new virus species is a key issue for the study of infectious disease but is technically very difficult. We developed a system for large-scale molecular virus screening of clinical samples based on host DNA depletion, random PCR amplification, large-scale sequencing, and bioinformatics. The technology was applied to pooled human respiratory tract samples. The first experiments detected seven human virus species without the use of any specific reagent. Among the detected viruses were one coronavirus and one parvovirus, both of which were at that time uncharacterized. The parvovirus, provisionally named human bocavirus, was in a retrospective clinical study detected in 17 additional patients and associated with lower respiratory tract infections in children. The molecular virus screening procedure provides a general culture-independent solution to the problem of detecting unknown virus species in single or pooled samples. We suggest that a systematic exploration of the viruses that infect humans, "the human virome," can be initiated.
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            Host phylogeny constrains cross-species emergence and establishment of rabies virus in bats.

            For RNA viruses, rapid viral evolution and the biological similarity of closely related host species have been proposed as key determinants of the occurrence and long-term outcome of cross-species transmission. Using a data set of hundreds of rabies viruses sampled from 23 North American bat species, we present a general framework to quantify per capita rates of cross-species transmission and reconstruct historical patterns of viral establishment in new host species using molecular sequence data. These estimates demonstrate diminishing frequencies of both cross-species transmission and host shifts with increasing phylogenetic distance between bat species. Evolutionary constraints on viral host range indicate that host species barriers may trump the intrinsic mutability of RNA viruses in determining the fate of emerging host-virus interactions.
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              Population biology of multihost pathogens.

              The majority of pathogens, including many of medical and veterinary importance, can infect more than one species of host. Population biology has yet to explain why perceived evolutionary advantages of pathogen specialization are, in practice, outweighed by those of generalization. Factors that predispose pathogens to generalism include high levels of genetic diversity and abundant opportunities for cross-species transmission, and the taxonomic distributions of generalists and specialists appear to reflect these factors. Generalism also has consequences for the evolution of virulence and for pathogen epidemiology, making both much less predictable. The evolutionary advantages and disadvantages of generalism are so finely balanced that even closely related pathogens can have very different host range sizes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
                Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci
                RSTB
                royptb
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                The Royal Society
                0962-8436
                1471-2970
                19 October 2012
                19 October 2012
                : 367
                : 1604 , Theme Issue 'Disease invasion: impacts on biodiversity and human health' compiled and edited by Andrew A. Cunningham, Andy P. Dobson and Peter J. Hudson
                : 2864-2871
                Affiliations
                Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, simpleUniversity of Edinburgh , Ashworth Laboratories, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK
                Author notes
                [* ]Author for correspondence ( mark.woolhouse@ 123456ed.ac.uk ).

                One contribution of 10 to a Theme Issue ‘ Disease invasion: impacts on biodiversity and human health’.

                Article
                rstb20110354
                10.1098/rstb.2011.0354
                3427559
                22966141
                This journal is © 2012 The Royal Society

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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