Scientists at Saint Louis University are preparing for the potential pandemic spread of a new bird flu strain that caused severe disease in China last spring, joining researchers from seven other Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test vaccines to protect against the illness in adults.
"Because this is a completely novel flu virus, our immune systems have not been exposed to any like it. Consequently, those who contract the H7N9 influenza virus may become very ill, which is why this virus had a fairly high mortality last spring in China," ...
...the virus might change to become very contagious between people, which could trigger a global outbreak,"...
A recent study on bird flu viruses has raised questions on overreliance on vaccines as a cure all strategy and which could have even spurred the emergence of newer strains.
…the widespread use of H5N1 vaccine in East Asia might have predisposed the emergence of H7N9 and other related viruses.
Zee Leung, programme officer at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada, agrees with the findings pointing out that the research suggest that vaccination may have encouraged the H7N9 virus to mutate faster.
The main reason that new viruses such as H1N1, H7N9 and H5N1 are so dangerous is that humans have little or no existing ability to attack and neutralize them.
Novel avian influenza A virus has potential for both virulence and transmissibility in humans
A new study has found that a novel avian-origin H7N9 influenza A virus, which has recently emerged in humans, attaches moderately or abundantly to the epithelium of both the upper and lower respiratory tracts. This pattern has not been observed before for avian influenza A viruses. The report, published in the October issue of The American Journal of Pathology, suggests that the emerging H7N9 virus has the potential to cause a pandemic, since it may transmit efficiently in humans and cause severe pneumonia.
..."Our results indicate that based just on the pattern of virus attachment the H7N9 currently emerging in China has the potential both to cause severe pulmonary disease and to be efficiently transmitted among humans," says Dr. Kuiken. He emphasizes that attachment is only the first step in the replication cycle of influenza virus in its host cell, and that other steps, as well as the host response, need to be taken into account to fully understand the potential of these emerging H7 viruses to cause an influenza pandemic.
H7N9 studies flesh out infectivity patterns in humans, pigs
Researchers looking for molecular clues to help global health officials assess the risk from the new H7N9 virus in China reported this week that it is adept at attaching to human lower and upper respiratory tract cells and that it replicates efficiently in swine airway tissues.
…The findings confirmed that the new H7N9 virus is capable of infecting pigs, which significantly increases the risk of H7N9 outbreaks and the virus's potential for acquiring mutations or gene segments that could enhance transmissibility in mammals, the team concluded.
They noted that human infections detected in China over the summer show that H7N9 is still circulating, but so far there are no systems in place in northern or eastern China to monitor the virus in pigs.
Although factory farming has been a target of much criticism, it has its defenders. Marie Gramer, a veterinarian at the University of Minnesota, said enclosed farm buildings offer "biosecurity" from pathogens carried by wild animals, including birds and wild pigs.
Bird flu viruses H7N9 and H5N1 continue to pose threats to health: FAO
…“Bird flu viruses continue to circulate in poultry. Efforts must continue and be strengthened, not only in affected countries, but also in neighbouring states and areas with strong trade linkages. This is especially true for H7N9, since it causes no clinical signs in birds and is therefore very difficult to detect in poultry.”
…In the longer-term fight against H7N9 and other viruses, FAO and USAID are urging countries to invest in improving the way they market and sell poultry.
“We need keep our eyes on the bigger picture of promoting healthy food systems, especially when it comes to animal production and marketing,” Lubroth said.
In what is described as it’s worst outbreak of the dangerous virus since first reported in 2004, Cambodia health officials are reporting two additional confirmed cases of human H5N1 avian influenza in two children, according to a Xinhua report today.
CIDRAP: …the disease has hit children especially hard since it was first detected in the country in 2005. Since then, Cambodia has confirmed 41 H5N1 cases and 30 deaths.
Earlier this month, while you were busy sneaking out of your empty office, hoping nobody would notice your starting the holiday weekend early, the USDA was also doing something it was hoping nobody would notice. It was green-lighting the sale of Chinese processed American chicken. As Politico explained, “U.S. officials have given the thumbs-up to four Chinese poultry plants, paving the way for the country to send processed chicken to American markets.” But while, “at first, China will only be able to process chicken that has been slaughtered in the U.S. or other certified countries,” that should not be a comfort to fans of the McNugget, Campbell’s chicken soup, or any other processed chicken product.
Flu mutating 8 times faster than any flu virus known: The new bird flu could be mutating up to eight times faster than an average flu virus around a protein that binds it to humans, a team of research scientists in Shenzhen says. Dr .He Jiankui, an associate professor at South University of Science and Technology of China, said yesterday that the authorities should be alarmed by the results of their research and step up monitoring and control efforts to prevent a possible pandemic. With genetic code of the virus obtained from mainland authorities, the team scrutinized haemagglutinin, a protein that plays a crucial rule in the process of infection. The protein binds the virus to an animal cell, such as respiratory cells in humans, and bores a hole in the cell’s membrane to allow entry by the virus. The researchers found dramatic mutation of haemagglutinin in one of the four flu strains released for study by the central government. Nine of the protein’s 560 amino acids had changed. In a typical flu virus, only one or two amino acids could change in such a short period of time, He said. “It happened in just one or two weeks. The speed may not have caught up with the HIV, but it’s quite unusual for a flu.” The fast mutation makes the virus’ evolutionary development very hard to predict
works fine unless you want to actually put text in the box....DUH!
they're preparing cause they're the ones that will be spreading it
With all of the humans on earth, how long will it be before something mutates and becomes transmittable to other animals and suddenly kills off millions of them?
...I guess we should be grateful that infectious agents generally don't cross the species barrier.
...the other creatures might not have any defense against it unless they too can be vaccinated or put inside a bubble.
What does this say for poor populations that might not be able to afford to live in bubbles? If a virus mutates to become effective against richer people who have better methods then it could become extremely dangerous to poor populations where richer methods are not available. This could be an example of survival of the fittest.
...There are no anti virals widely given so people are told to wait it out. Is this why this particular disease is causing so many deaths?
I did not know canned chicken soups were coming from China. How can we know where our food is manufactured? Is it in the bar code?
...The only defense we humans have is the ability of keep our immune system healthy enough to fight back the mutations and most of us do.
Sadly with all the environmental factors affecting us by nature and mostly man made, our immune systems are becoming compromised.
You know, pandemics are not a new thing. They have thinned all animal species including humans since... well, i don't think I've read about a time where it didn't happen. Oddly enough there is one group of people that seemed to withstand the pandemics. Jews. Now, I'm not one, I happen to be Catholic. The point I'm getting at is they (and a lot of Catholics) have strict cleanliness rules. Wash your hands, tend to your food in a sanitary manner, change your sheets once a week, bathe, eat food that is clean and good for you. When you keep your body nourished, and clean its amazing what your immune system can defeat.