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first_imgAug 3, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Africa have for the first time isolated Marburg viruses from fruit bats found in a Ugandan cave where humans were infected, a finding that suggests bats may be a natural host of the virus.The group reported their findings in the Jul 13 issue of Public Library of Science Pathogens (PLoS Pathogens). The natural reservoirs for the Marburg virus and its close relative, Ebola virus, have long been the subject of speculation.The CDC said in a Jul 31 press release that caves where the bats dwell in Africa are popular tourist attractions, and some bat-infested mines are actively used by local people, putting bats and people in close contact.A Dutch woman died of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in 2008 after visiting a “python cave” in western Uganda, and the illness was confirmed in a US patient who had visited the same cave a few months earlier. The current study was prompted by a death and confirmed and suspected Marburg illnesses in lead and gold miners who worked at Kitaka Cave in remote western Uganda.”By identifying the natural source of this virus, appropriate public health resources can be directed to prevent future outbreaks,” the CDC said in the statement. Understanding more about transmission between bats and humans may provide clues to prevention or treatment for Marburg virus infections. Currently, no vaccine or specific treatment is available.Previous studies had found antibodies to and genetic fragments of the Marburg virus in the bats, but no live virus.In the current study, researchers trapped and took blood and tissue samples from bats at Kitaka Cave during two visits, one in August 2007 after the miners were sickened and one in May 2008.Bats at the cave appeared healthy enough to seek food. The team found active Marburg virus infections in 5% (31 of 611) of Egyptian fruit bats, common in Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East, and isolated the live virus from five animals. Four of the isolates came from animals trapped during the 2007 trip, and one came from an animal sampled in 2008.The research group reported that sampling large numbers of bats and flash freezing and preserving samples in liquid nitrogen immediately after dissection helped them successfully isolate the live virus. Also, they said launching the ecological study soon after the outbreak in humans enabled them to do their work while the virus activity in the bats was probably still high.The scientists didn’t find any viral DNA in oral swabs taken from the bats, but they said ruling out saliva transmission would be premature given the limited number of bats tested. They found no evidence of vertical transmission when they tested the placentas of pregnant female bats.They projected that more than 5,000 infected bats could have been in the colony at any one time, “suggesting that there is a high risk of infection for humans who spend extended periods in close proximity to the bats,” they wrote.Genetic analysis of the Marburg sequences from the bats and the miners found that diverse Marburg lineages were circulating in the cave’s bats, suggesting that the virus had circulated in the bats for a long time, and that some of the sequences were nearly identical to the human isolates.Towner JS, Amman BR, Sealy TK, et al. Isolation of genetically diverse Marburg viruses from Egyptian fruit bats. PLoS Pathogens 2009 Jul 21;5(7):[Full text]See also:Jul 31 CDC press releaseAug 22, 2007, CIDRAP News story “Traces of Marburg virus found in African bats”last_img read more

first_imgAP7 operates as a state-owned alternative to the private investment funds in Sweden’s first-pillar premium pension system.Its Såfa fund has 3m customers, and is composed of AP7’s “building-block” equity and fixed income funds, with the proportions depending on customer age profiles.AP7’s net profit dipped slightly to SEK63.26m in 2013 from SEK64m.Its equity fund generated an investment return of 34% in 2013, up from 18.5% in 2012.In absolute terms, the fund ended the year with a profit of SEK41.99m, up from the previous year’s SEK18.01m.Total assets rose to SEK173.5bn from SEK123.3bn.The bond portfolio, meanwhile, produced a total return of 1.8% in 2013, which AP7 described as a positive result given that market yields had fallen over the year.Last year, the bond fund returned 2.8%.In absolute terms, the bond fund made a profit of SEK160,195, compared with SEK187,155 the year before.Total assets in the bond fund rose to SEK12.69bn from SEK8.87bn. Sweden’s seventh AP fund (AP7) has said it produced a 32% return for savers in its balanced Såfa pension fund, which it said beat the average return of 16% of competitor funds in the premium pension system.Richard Gröttheim, deputy director at AP7, said: “The fact Såfa did so well is down to the large equity exposure.”Leverage also provided an extra boost that was hard to beat in the good times, he said.Fees have been cut for the second year in a row, he said, falling to 0.12% as of 1 January, from 0.14% in the equity fund and to 0.05% from 0.08% for the fixed income fund, he said.last_img read more

first_imgThe World Trade Center in AmsterdamFinancial publication FD reported that platforms including CBOE, LSE Turquoise, Tradeweb and Bloomberg could move to Amsterdam, and that several providers of benchmarks and indices had also shown an interest.This could involve financial giants such as like Standard & Poor’s and Dow Jones moving to the Dutch capital, FD reported, as well as up to 23 parties trading for their own account. Currently, only four of these operate in the Netherlands.Van Vroonhoven cited “an almost invisible rotation in the European capital markets”, and also predicted that organisations relocating to the Netherlands would also attract other service providers.“Moreover, it will enhance access to capital markets for Dutch schemes and other asset managers,” she said.The migration of financial trade infrastructure would also offer proper guarantees for “uniform and effective supervision”, Van Vroonhoven continued, as well as “high standards for governance and the protection of investors”.She said that an extension of the regulator’s tasks, investments in additional capacity, expertise, support services and IT systems would be necessary.According to Vroonhoven, companies were focused on the Netherlands and weren’t shopping around in Europe “as applying for a license is complex and time consuming”.She acknowledged that these changes could be limited if the UK and EU opted for a “very soft” Brexit – or no Brexit at all. “But as things stand, we can’t expect this,” she said.Several other European cities have been attempting to lure London-based financial services companies, including Paris and Frankfurt. Luxembourg and Dublin have already experienced inflows of capital and company staff as asset managers in particular have moved to safeguard their EU businesses. The Netherlands is to become the European centre for trading in equity and bonds after Brexit, the Dutch Financial Markets Authority (AFM) has claimed.It said that it has been in “150 substantial discussions” with players from the UK interested in obtaining a license for doing business in the Netherlands.“We expect that between 30% and 40% of the European trade in financial instruments is to move to the Netherlands,” said Merel van Vroonhoven, chair of the AFM.Currently just 5% was based in the Netherlands, she said. An AFM spokesman said subsequently that transactions were expected to increase from 2m to 20m per day, with daily volumes expected to rise from €2.2bn to €14bn.last_img read more