Novel virus found in Vietnam brain infection patients

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Researchers have discovered a new virus in patients in Vietnam suffering from severe brain infections, a team of scientists reported today in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

The virus was detected in 28 of 644 patients who had severe brain infections and none of 122 patients who had non-infectious brain disorders, according to researchers at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Wellcome Trust South East Asia Major Overseas Programme and the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam. It's tentatively called CyCV-VN and is part of a group of viruses known as Circoviridae known to circulate in animals such as birds and pigs, they said.

"We don't yet know whether this virus is responsible for causing the serious brain infections we see in these patients, but finding an infectious agent like this in a normally sterile environment like the fluid around the brain is extremely important," Rogier van Doorn, head of emerging infections at the Wellcome Trust Vietnam Research Program and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Vietnam, said in a statement.

Brain infections can be fatal and may leave people who survive them with severe disabilities, the researchers said. Bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses can cause the infections, though doctors can't pinpoint the cause of more than half of them.

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the European Union and the Li Ka-Shing Foundation-University of Oxford Global Health Program.

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