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Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Search strategy has influenced the discovery rate of human viruses

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  • Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Search strategy has influenced the discovery rate of human viruses

    [Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

    Search strategy has influenced the discovery rate of human viruses

    Ronald Rosenberg<SUP>1</SUP>, Michael A. Johansson, Ann M. Powers, and Barry R. Miller

    Author Affiliations: Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, CO 80521

    Edited* by Barry J. Beaty, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, and approved June 27, 2013 (received for review April 18, 2013)

    <ABBR>PNAS</ABBR> August 20, 2013 vol. 110 no. 34 13961-13964 - Published online before print August 5, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1307243110


    A widely held concern is that the pace of infectious disease emergence has been increasing. We have analyzed the rate of discovery of pathogenic viruses, the preeminent source of newly discovered causes of human disease, from 1897 through 2010. The rate was highest during 1950?1969, after which it moderated. This general picture masks two distinct trends: for arthropod-borne viruses, which comprised 39% of pathogenic viruses, the discovery rate peaked at three per year during 1960?1969, but subsequently fell nearly to zero by 1980; however, the rate of discovery of nonarboviruses remained stable at about two per year from 1950 through 2010. The period of highest arbovirus discovery coincided with a comprehensive program supported by The Rockefeller Foundation of isolating viruses from humans, animals, and arthropod vectors at field stations in Latin America, Africa, and India. The productivity of this strategy illustrates the importance of location, approach, long-term commitment, and sponsorship in the discovery of emerging pathogens.

    emerging diseases ? zoonoses


    <SUP>1</SUP>To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

    Author contributions: R.R. designed research; R.R., A.M.P., and B.R.M. performed research; M.A.J. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; R.R. and M.A.J. analyzed data; and R.R., M.A.J., A.M.P., and B.R.M. wrote the paper.

    The authors declare no conflict of interest.

    *This Direct Submission article had a prearranged editor.

    This article contains supporting information online at

    Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.