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J Nutr. 1997 May;127(5 Suppl):948S-950S.

Nutrition and newly emerging viral diseases: an overview.

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  • 1Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, MD 20705, USA.


Infectious diseases are on the increase worldwide. When discussing interactions of nutrition and infection, nutritionists have traditionally considered only the effects of diet on the host. Recent data, however, indicate that, at least for an RNA virus, host nutriture can influence the genetic make-up of the pathogen and thereby alter its virulence. This symposium was organized to alert the nutrition community to this discovery and its possible implications for the investigation of nutrition-infection interrelationships. Topics covered in the symposium include the following: the public health threat of emerging viral diseases; the rapid evolution of viral RNA genomes; oxidants and antioxidants in viral diseases-disease mechanisms and metabolic regulation; and increased virulence of coxsackievirus B3 due to vitamin E or selenium deficiency. If the findings with coxsackievirus are more broadly applicable to other RNA viruses, the results could be of great public health significance because RNA viruses constitute the majority of all plant, animal and human viruses.

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