As diseases like SARS and West Nile virus strike more people around the globe, a new lab for advanced research has opened at the University of Iowa to target study on such health threats. Dr. Greg Gray is director of the U-of-I’s new Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. Dr. Gray, a U-of-I professor of epidemiology, says the new lab “is taking advantage of a lot of talent here at the University, both in the College of Medicine and College Public Health and at the Hygienic Lab seeking to work together to pursue diseases.” Besides SARS and West Nile virus, Gray says they’re pursuing tuberculosis, AIDS and other newer diseases, particular those that attack the respiratory system. They’re looking closely at emerging diseases, including “adenovirus” which sometimes causes the common cold and sometimes causes severe disease, and also the human metapneumovirus which was implicated in the SARS outbreak. Dr. Gray says some may question why a new high-tech lab with 25 investigators would be located in Iowa, where the population is so sparse compared to many other parts of the world. Gray says it’s estimated that 70-percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans are due to bacteria and viruses that normally infect only animals. Since Iowa leads the nation in egg and swine production and is second in chicken production, he says Iowa’s an ideal place to study these diseases which often move from animals to humans. For more information, surf to “www.public-health.uiowa.edu/ceid/” on the Internet.
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