Bird Flu Virus Mere Mutations Away From Pandemic


(Image source: Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention) BY BRIAN BONDUS New research from MIT warns two bird flu
viruses are only a few mutations away from becoming much more infectious. The H5N1 and H7N9 viruses, most commonly found
in birds, can spread to humans by handling poultry and touching certain animals, but
the viruses are reportedly only one amino-acid change away from being able to spread through
human-to-human contact. Many fear if the viruses do mutate, they will
spread rapidly through humans’ coughs and sneezes and could cause a pandemic. It’s especially
alarming because these strains are considered deadly. (Via The Hindu)

”Out of the 131 cases that have been reported in China, 127 of those people have had to
go to the hospital, which means around 97 percent of those infected needed serious care.
Thirty-six people didn’t survive.” (Via Everyday Health) NPR reports flu viruses don’t just mutate
randomly to spread from human to human, but rather they all stem from the 1918 Spanish
flu. Also known as the “Mother of All Pandemics,” that bird flu killed an estimated 50 million
people, and the three flu pandemics since 1957 are all descendents of the strain. (Via CDC) So what is China doing to stop the outbreak
of this lethal virus? According to a U.S. researcher who visited
China in April, the Chinese are correctly testing poultry for the virus, but currently
it is not common among the birds. He says, “You can look at the data and say hey, one reasonable
interpretation is this virus is not very common on farms. … And occasionally … chicken
or quail are infected and they go to the market and it amplifies in the market and get more
birds infected in the market. That’s a very plausible hypothesis based on the data right
now.” (Via The Province)   There have been no reports of human-to-human
spreading of the disease and no illnesses outside of China.

6 thoughts on “Bird Flu Virus Mere Mutations Away From Pandemic

  1. Technically every virus is one mutation away from pandemic, that being said- it's also one mutation away from becoming an inert harmless virus that only affects oak trees…

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