In 2001 virologists in Rotterdam, The Netherlands discovered a new virus that causes serious respiratory illnesses mainly in young children. The discovery was the beginning of a successful company that enabled the development and production of a range of diagnostic products. This led to substantial job creation and made a positive contribution to public health.
About 2500 Dutch children are diagnosed with the dangerous respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and admitted in hospitals every year. However, in 2001 researchers at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands discovered that 20% of these children were not infected with RSV at all. There had to be another virus causing their symptoms. ‘So we opened our laboratory methods toolbox, to find out what caused the disease in these children,’ Professor Ab Osterhaus recounts. Osterhaus has been head of the Viroscience department at the Erasmus Medical Centre since 1993.
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