, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 434-440

Emerging zoonotic encephalitis viruses: Lessons from Southeast Asia and Oceania

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Abstract

The last decade of the 20th Century saw the introduction of an unprecedented number of encephalitic viruses emerge or spread in the Southeast Asian and Western Pacific regions (Mackenzie et al, 2001; Solomon, 2003a). Most of these viruses are zoonotic, either being arthropod-borne viruses or bat-borne viruses. Thus Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus, has spread through the Indonesian archipelago to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and to the islands of the Torres Strait of northern Australia, to Pakistan, and to new areas in the Indian subcontinent; a strain of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) was described for the first time in Hokkaido, Japan; and a novel mosquito-borne alphavirus, Me Tri virus, was described from Vietnam. Three novel bat-borne viruses emerged in Australia and Malaysia; two, Hendra and Nipah viruses, represent the first examples of a new genus in the family Paramyxoviridae, the genus Henipaviruses, and the third, Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) is new lyssavirus closely related to classical rabies virus. These viruses will form the body of this brief review.