Genomics and Pathogen Discovery Unit

Over the past decade, NAMRU-6 has participated in a United States Department of Defense project to conduct surveillance for respiratory viruses in Latin America. With the current worldwide concern for pandemic influenza and the need for rapid diagnosis and virus identification, our program has the capacity to analyze samples with an array of diagnostic tests including viral isolation and molecular techniques. Our findings are shared with each country’s MoH and local health centers. Results are also shared with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and may be included in the annual recommendations for influenza vaccine components. Several important isolates have been incorporated in past vaccines.

Goals:
● Cooperate with MoHs to determine the infectious causes of new upper respiratory ailments, particularly severe disease, in Peru and other Latin American countries
● Describe the epidemiology of respiratory disease, particularly influenza, throughout Latin America
● Use a combination of sentinel surveillance, defined catchment areas, and community-based active surveillance cohorts to better characterize the epidemiology of respiratory disease in the region
● Evaluate influenza complications in high-risk patients
● Characterize regional resistance patterns to anti-influenza medications and the ease of transmissibility of such resistance throughout Latin America
● Improve efficiency in providing timely information to MoHs to aid in the investigation of respiratory disease outbreaks. Toward this goal, train collaborating laboratories in the use of rapid-tests and provide those tests for laboratory confirmation of the etiology of respiratory diseases
● Act as a reference lab for Andean MoHs needing assistance with viral isolate identification and/or training in techniques to bring capabilities to other sites
● Genetically characterize circulating influenza viruses to identify the emergence of novel reassortant viruses