News 599 views update:Sep 5, 2006

Albert Osterhaus honoured for work on bird flu and SARS

The European Lung Foundation (ELF) has honoured Professor Albert Osterhaus with the European Lung Foundation Award, in recognition of his major role in the prevention and containment of respiratory viral infections.

Professor Osterhaus is a world-leading virologist whose work resulted in breakthrough discoveries about diseases such as bird flu and SARS:

1) The discovery that a Hong Kong flu strain which had killed a 3-year-old boy belonged to an avian influenza strain called H5N1 and that H5N1 can be transferred into humans.

2) Identifying human metapneumovirus (hMPV), which causes a spectrum of respiratory illnesses, ranging from mild upper respiratory tract infections to pneumonia.

3) Showing that severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was caused by a coronavirus that is normally found in civet cats and other carnivorous animals.

Viral infections of the lung could potentially become pandemic and threaten the lives of many European citizens.

Professor Osterhaus is not only a dedicated researcher, but also campaigns relentlessly, particularly with the World Health Organisation, to raise understanding and to help prevent the spread of potential deadly viruses. This focus makes him the perfect candidate for the European Lung Foundation award, which recognises outstanding contributors to human health and lung disease.

As stated by Professor Osterhaus, "Failure to act now will leave us empty handed when a pandemic strikes and will cause needless deaths".

Professor Osterhaus was born in 1948 in the Netherlands. He originally qualified in veterinary medicine, before moving into research and graduating from Utrecht University in 1978 with a PhD in virology. He then joined the Netherlands' National Institute of Public Health and Environment where he held many different roles and, in between producing vaccines, began studying animal viruses.

Editor WorldPoultry

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