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PLOS Papers on Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever in Russia, Avian Influenza in Australia, More

Russian researchers report on Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) isolates identified in Russia for a study appearing in PLOS One. With some 500 blood serum samples collected from individuals with Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever in the clinic, along with pooled testing on more than 100 ticks found in southern Russia over a decade, the team turned to targeted CCHFV genome profiling on isolates in the country, placing the isolates into two known lineages previously found in Europe and Africa as well as a new European lineage dubbed Europe 3. "The detection of strains of the new genetic lineage Europe 3 provides new data on the genetic diversity of CCHFV in Russia and the World," the authors note, adding that the "percentage of detected strains belonging to lineage Europe 3 among the studied strains was extremely low."

A team from Australia, Bangladesh, and Hong Kong characterizes avian influenza A virus (AIV) patterns in Australia for a paper in PLOS Pathogens. Using whole-genome sequencing data for 333 low pathogenic AIV isolates collected from Australia's wild birds over 15 years, the researchers saw signs that the avian flu is introduced to the country only rarely. In contrast, their results suggest that Australia acts as a "global sink" for avian flu virus diversity, with strains circulating and reassorting segments of their genomes over time, before petering out in some cases. "[W]e revealed that the evolution of AIV in Australia differs from patterns found in the Northern Hemisphere," the authors note, adding that the distinct dynamics "reflect differences in environmental conditions influencing bird ecology, notably in AIV host competency and movement patterns, and taken together should be integrated into improved risk assessments of potential AIV spillover into poultry and the distribution of exotic or potentially zoonotic AIV lineages into Australia."

In PLOS Genetics, investigators at the University of Oslo and other centers in Norway explore overlapping genetic contributors to depression risk and cardiometabolic features with the help of statistical modeling methods for finding shared genomic loci, quantifying overlapping polygenic contributors, and mapping the functional consequences of such loci. Based on data for more than 502,700 coronary artery disease patients and 450,619 individuals with depression — together with nine cardiovascular trait measurements in hundreds of thousands more participants — the team saw extensive genetic ties between depression and cardiometabolic traits and conditions. Some 9,500 variants appeared to contribute to both body mass index and depression, for example, while systolic blood pressure shared 2,000 variants with depression. Dozens more loci linked depression to heart conditions, blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, type 2 diabetes, or other traits of interest