Third Place Award – Marlon Haygood, Hilary Greenleaf, Florence Liu, Samuel John & Ishita Das
HHV-5B by Marlon Haygood
Threat Overview: HHV-5B, often referred to as simply ‘5B’, is a unique strain of human cytomegalovirus, also known as Human betaherpesvirus 5 (HHV-5). The 5B strain emerged somewhere in South America. Natural variation during the replication of this extremely prevalent virus led to the evolution of a variant that was both more transmissible and more virulent. In the United States, human cytomegalovirus testing of newborns was rarely performed; more accurate prevalence estimates were only determined after targeted testing was performed on infants who failed their hearing screening. By the time the increase in clinical manifestations was noted, 5B had already established itself in the Americas.
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Still water, deep sky by Hilary Greenleaf
Threat Overview: The pathogen responsible for the current pandemic is the novel prion PrPjh. Prions are proteins, which in their normal form (PrPc) are found on the surface of human cells. However, abnormal forms of this protein are able to convert the normal form into their abnormal folded structure. When these cross the blood brain barrier, severe, rapidly progressing neurological disease occurs, with similarities to the prion disease Creutzfeldt-Jacob. The novel strain PrPjh responsible for the pandemic almost certainly originated in the tiny population of the endangered, forest dwelling bovine, Saola. It most likely spread to humans when hunters with an interest in consuming endangered species travelled to Laos.
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In Enemy Territory by Florence Liu
Threat Overview: Currently referred to as Novel Nipah Virus (NNiV). NNiV is a variant of the Nipah Virus, a zoonotic virus belonging to the genus Henipavirus in the family Paramyxoviridae. Infection spread began locally in southern villages in the country of Sormbay, located in South Asia. The largest employment sector in Sormbay is agriculture and due to high demand for agricultural products, more rural areas were developed into farms. Development encroached on wildlife habitat, including that of fruit bats. Farm crops contaminated with bat saliva or urine, subsequently infecting workers.
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Happiness is a Virtue by Samuel John and Ishita Das
Threat Overview: The family of picornaviruses (Picornaviridae), are well-known to cause asymptomatic to fatal disease, from rashes to encephalitis, in children less than 5 years of age. Human picornaviruses include the genus Enterovirus (EV). There is limited surveillance and medical facilities in illegal, poorly managed factories like the cattle ranches that have cropped up to replace large areas of the Amazon forests. EV-D73 would develop different modes of transmission circulating in a vulnerable population living in congested spaces, accumulating mutations, while remaining undetected.
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