Big data derived from electronic health records, social media, the internet and other digital sources have the potential to provide more timely and detailed information on infectious disease threats or outbreaks than traditional surveillance methods. A team of scientists led by MISMS researchers Cecile Viboud and Gerardo Chowell reviewed the growing body of research on the subject and has published its analyses in a special issue of Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Last week, the work of Dr Andrew Bowman, Ohio State University, was highlighted in Yahoo news. Dr Bowman has been tracking influenza viruses in US exhibition swine since 2009. In 2016, Dr Bowman co-authored two studies with MISMS researchers examining how novel viruses with pandemic potential evolve in exhibition swine. One study, published in January 2016 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, identified the active role of exhibition swine in the evolution of novel variant viruses that have infected over 300 humans in the United States since 2011. A second study, published online in September 2016 in the Journal of Virology, traces long-term evolutionary trends of influenza viruses in exhibition swine and demonstrates how these can be used to predict outbreaks of variant swine viruses in humans.
Researchers from the Fogarty International Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Laboratorio Avi-Mex have used genetic sequencing to show that the 2009 global H1N1 influenza pandemic began in central Mexico, originating in pigs and spreading to humans. Mexico is not typically considered a source of novel influenza strains, and the findings demonstrate how long-distance trade of live swine can move viruses between continents and regions to generate novel reassortant viruses. The new findings appear online in the journal eLIFE.