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Europe faces threat of unknown viruses attack: report

http://www.100md.com   2006-5-6 xinhuanet
     LONDON, May 6 (Xinhua) -- A veritable zoo of nasty new viruses is circulating in Europe and could kill people without even being detected, the New Scientist reported on Saturday.

    Tahyna, which can cause encephalitis in humans like the West Nile virus, is common across the Europe in mosquitoes, rabbits and birds, the magazine quoted Ernie Gould of the University of Oxford as saying.

    Gould is engaged in a study commissioned by the British government on the risk of insect-borne and other arthropod-borne viruses emerging in Britain.

    According to Gould, such diseases may already be infecting and killing people. About 50 Britons die every year from viral encephalitis, yet fewer than 40 percent of these deaths are ever pinned on a specific pathogen. The figures are similar in other developed countries.

    "Wildlife is a huge reservoir of potential pathogens, but at the moment we do very little in the way of surveillance," the report quoted Joe Brownlie of the Royal Veterinary College, London, as saying. Brownlie stressed the need to test more animals and birds.

    "No one knows what major diseases may arise, but improved detection, identification and monitoring will be critical in catching them earlier than we do now," the British chief scientific adviser David King said. Enditem

    Editor: Mo Hong'e