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NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Discovering novel zoonotic viruses Volume 22 Issue 5-6

Lin-Fa Wang

NSW Public Health Bulletin 22(6) 113-117 Published: 25 July 2011

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Lin-Fa Wang


From the emergence of Hendra virus and Menangle virus in Australia to the global pandemics of severe acute respiratory syndrome and influenza viruses (both H5N1 and H1N1), there has been a surge of zoonotic virus outbreaks in the last two decades. Although the drivers for virus emergence remain poorly understood, the rate of discovery of new viruses is accelerating. This is due to a combination of true emergence of new pathogens and the advance of new technologies making rapid detection and characterisation possible. While molecular approaches will continue to lead the way in virus discovery, other technological platforms are required to increase the chance of success. The lessons learnt in the last 20 years confirm that the One Health approach, involving inclusive collaborations between physicians, veterinarians and other health and environmental professionals, will be the key to combating future zoonotic disease outbreaks.