How do we face up to the global challenge of emerging virus infections? With a solid grasp of the historical perspective and armed with the latest genomic toolkit, we can now evaluate the relative merits of eradication, vaccination and chemotherapy as Paul Duprex and Elke Mühlberger explain in this article in Microbiology Today (pdf):
Emerging and re-emerging viruses will be a continuing threat to human health because of their amazing potential to adapt to their current hosts, to switch to new hosts and to evolve strategies to escape antiviral measures. Moreover, global climate changes and destruction of habitats, in combination with extensive travel activity, may promote the spread of currently unknown pathogens. This threat comes not only from naturally occurring infections, but may also arise from bio- terrorism attacks involving deliberate release. Some emerging viruses, such as filoviruses, have attracted substantial scientific and popular attention despite the fact that less than 3,000 cases have been described since the first isolation of Marburg virus more than 40 years ago. Nevertheless, the deadly appearance of these viruses, with fatality rates of up to 90%, would most likely cause panic and social disruption in the case of an outbreak.