Archive for the ‘emerging infectious diseases’ Category
In late December, we reported on the retraction of a 2010 research letter in Emerging Infectious Diseases looking at the genetics of swine flu.
The notice in the journal, a CDC publication, indicated that the conclusions were in error, although it didn’t really say much more:
To the Editor: We would like to retract the letter entitled “Triple Reassortant Swine Influenza A (H3N2) Virus in Waterfowl,” which was published the April 2010 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases (1). The nucleoprotein gene sequences from the viruses reported in that letter are very closely related to those from the earliest detected triple reassortant swine influenza viruses [CY095676 A/sw/Texas/4199–2/1998(H3N2)]. Although these viruses could have acquired a swine-origin segment, the branch lengths are quite short for 9 years of evolution. Therefore, we have withdrawn these 4 isolates from GenBank and subsequently retract this letter.
As it happens, there was more to the story.
The study, a letter titled “Triple Reassortant Swine Influenza A (H3N2) Virus in Waterfowl,” claimed to shed new light on how flu viruses might jump between species: Read the rest of this entry »
When is a retraction not a retraction? Why, when it’s a correction, of course — like the one the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases issued this month:
In the article Reassortment of Ancient Neuraminidase and Recent Hemagglutinin in Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Virus (P. Bhoumik, A.L. Hughes), errors were made in selection of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) sequences for the initial and subsequent data sets. As a result, the authors incorrectly concluded that the NA gene of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus is of a more ancient lineage than the HA. Other researchers (and the authors) have not been able to reproduce the findings when using HA and NA matched pairs from viruses chosen on the basis of geography and time and correctly have pointed out errors in the data set that make the original conclusions invalid.
In other words, 1) the article was based largely on an error and 2) the central point could not be reproduced, two flaws that, at least in our book, usually constitute grounds for retraction.
The paper was written by Priyasma Bhoumik and Austin Hughes. Bhoumik, now a post-doc at Harvard, at the time was a PhD student at the University of South Carolina, where Hughes is a senior faculty member. Funding for the work came to Hughes from the National Institutes of Health, according to the original article.
We spoke with Hughes, who said that in this case, correction versus retraction is a distinction without a difference: Read the rest of this entry »