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March 21, 2006

Avian Flu Viral Genetic Diversity More Threatening

Topics: Health Issues

bird flu2.jpg Authorities are begining to fear that the H5N1 virus could evolve to develop efficient human-to-human transmission. Menancingly, only a few adaptations are needed to transform the H5N1 avian influenza virus, commonly known as "bird flu," into a potential pandemic virus. And with continued outbreaks of the H5N1 virus in poultry and wild birds, further human cases are likely.

The genetic diversity of avian influenza viral strains with the potential to trigger a pandemic is steadily turning more menacing, researchers reported here today.

An analysis of more than 300 isolates of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu, taken from both humans and birds between 2003 and 2005, shows that the virus is developing into two potentially dangerous genetic subgroups, said Rebecca Garten, Ph.D., of the CDC at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases here.

"As the virus continues its geographic expansion, it is also undergoing genetic diversity expansion," Dr. Garten said in a statement. That increased genetic diversity means that the surveillance of the virus needs to be more intense.

"With continued outbreaks of the H5N1 virus in poultry and wild birds, further human cases are likely," says Ian Wilson, a Scripps Research professor of molecular biology and head of the laboratory that conducted the recent study. "The potential for the emergence of a human-adapted H5 virus, either by reassortment or mutation, is a clear threat to public health worldwide."

Related:
Bird Flu on Similar Evolutionary Path as 1918 Killer Virus (Has human to human transmission ALREADY OCCURRED?) Updated

Saying they want to inspire preparation, not alarm, three cabinet secretaries said Monday that the dangerous strain of avian flu is likely to make its first U.S. appearance in wild birds migrating from Asia to Alaska.

U.S. scientists have confirmed that the H5N1 virus responsible for the current virulent strain of bird flu has evolved into two genetically distinct strains.

Whole genome analysis of the H5N1 avian influenza virus samples revealed that the virus has two related but different strains, scientists at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Pakistan's beleaguered poultry industry braced for a further drop in sales after the government announced on Tuesday the country's first two cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Two more cases of the deadly H5N1 bird flu have been confirmed in Poland, the Polish Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.

The H5N1 bird flu virus has been found at two new locations in Malaysia's northern state of Perak, where the authorities confirmed two bird flu cases last week, local officials said on Tuesday.

Denmark has confirmed nine more cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus in ducks, the country's veterinary authorities said, two days after nine tufted ducks were found to be H5-infected.

And there is actually much more on bird flu going on in the world...

Posted by Richard at March 21, 2006 8:37 AM



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