Via Nature News & Comment, Erika Check Hayden writes: Disease specialists identify post-Ebola threats. Excerpt:
As West Africans try to bring the calamitous Ebola outbreak to an end, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called scientists and doctors to Geneva, Switzerland, on 8 and 9 December to discuss which infectious disease is likely spark the next pandemic.
The WHO hopes not to be caught short, as it was last year when the West African outbreak raged unchecked for months before a massive effort to build treatment centres and to identify and quarantine contacts of patients brought it under control. The world should, perhaps, have been better prepared: in the 13 years preceding the first West Africa case, Ebola killed more than 700 people in 15 outbreaks.
Nature canvassed infectious-disease specialists to find out which pathogens they thought would trigger the next global crisis, and which treatments and vaccines might be readied to combat them.
Other Ebola species or Marburg virus
Although a vaccine protected people against Ebola in a clinical trial conducted this year in Guinea, and researchers are optimistic about the antibody drug ZMapp, both products work against only one type of Ebola virus — the Zaire species. But two other species of Ebola virus and the closely related Marburg virus are lethal in people and have caused recent outbreaks; vaccines and drugs against these other viruses have not progressed far in clinical development.
“We hear the word Ebola and think of things like vaccines or ZMapp and we get a false sense of security,” says microbiologist Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
The report goes on to discuss MERS, influenza, Nipah and Hendra viruses, and something completely unknown and unexpected.