Virologists at Henri-Mondor Hospital in Créteil have identified a new virus responsible for encephalitis, in other words inflammation of the brain, reveals The Parisian. They named it "Cristoli virus", which means "Créteil virus", and presented their research results in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
At the origin of this discovery? The case of a 58-year-old patient with unexplained encephalitis, to whom she died. In order to find the origin, the doctors performed a brain biopsy, which they had analyzed by the team at Henri-Mondor Hospital.
This sample allowed scientists to observe this new virus, which belongs to the orthobunyavirus family. "They are transmitted by insects, often mosquitoes but are rarely responsible for serious illnesses. Most transmissions are asymptomatic ", explains Professor Jean-Michel Pawlotsky, head of the medical biology department at Mondor, at Parisian. The presence of this virus could explain the severity of the infection in this patient, who was also immunocompromised.
Cristoli virus: an isolated case
To identify the Cristoli virus, the researchers used the same process that allowed Chinese teams to discover the coronavirus behind Covid-19: metagenomics. "It is based on what is called next generation sequencing. Clearly, we are taking blood samples, urine, stool, sputum, or so in this case brain biopsy – then we extract the nucleic acids to fully sequence them. In this huge bale of hay, technology makes it possible to identify pieces belonging either to already known infectious agents or to foreigners ", details Professor Jean-Michel Pawlotsky. The Cristoli virus thus observed and referenced for the first time.
What about its dangerousness? In this time of Covid-19 epidemic, this question is on everyone's lips. But the specialist assures him: "We are not describing a new epidemic. This is a single case, isolated, without any measure whatsoever with the coronavirus. For the moment, nothing indicates that it circulates on the territory".
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