Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Study Shows How Bird Flu Could Jump to Humans

From the 2 May 2012 article at MedPage Today
Action Points
  • Note that a paper published in Naturedemonstrated transmissibility between ferrets of a reassortant H1N1 influenza strain with four mutations in an H5N1 hemagglutinin.
  • Note that while the reassortant virus transmitted easily by respiratory droplets and that ferrets are a good model for human transmission, the virus did not cause a fatal illness in the animals.

A hotly debated study pins down four mutations in a key gene in the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu that allow it to adapt to mammals.

The mutations, in the hemagglutinin gene of the avian flu, are enough to make it easily pass among ferrets in droplet form, much as human-adapted flu passes among humans, researchers reported.

But the modified virus – a construct combining the modified H5N1 gene and seven genes from the human H1N1 pandemic flu — was not lethal to the animals, according to Yoshihiro Kawaoka, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin Madison, and colleagues.

And it remains unclear if a wild-type H5N1 virus that acquired the four mutations would be transmissible among mammals, Kawaoka and colleagues wrote in an online Nature report that was the subject of heated discussion even before it was published….

May 9, 2012 - Posted by | environmental health

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