In Action – An Early Warning System for the Detection of Unexpected or Novel Pathogens

Pauline Dianne Santos, Ute Ziegler, Kevin Szillat, Claudia A. Szentiks, Birte Strobel, Jasmin Skuballa, Sabine Merbach, Pierre Grothmann, Birke Andrea Tews, Martin Beer, Dirk Höper

We introduce an early warning system (EWS) for the detection of novel or unexpected pathogens. The method uses high throughput sequencing datasets that have previously been derived by generic sequencing in earlier studies. We show proof of concept on datasets obtained from samples collected and analyzed during the West Nile virus 2018-19 epidemic in Germany. We found a novel peribunyavirid, tentatively named Hedwig virus, in snowy owls and other captive birds, and an unexpected detection of the Umatilla virus in passerine birds, a re-detection after 50 years of assumed absence in avian hosts.

Published September 2021 in Virus Evolution


       Figure1_EWS pauline


Host switching pathogens, infectious outbreaks and zoonosis; a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 721367.