CDC Says Bird Flu Becoming More Contagious
Written by Jamie Stowe| Friday, 01 August 2008| There is 1 comment
In America the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that the bird flu virus is changing and that it is developing strains and properties which could possibly increase the potential of it to infect humans from birds. They also said that it was also developing into a virus which could become more contagious between humans.
The research was done on the Influenza A H7 virus types which are very contagious to birds but must not be mixed up with with the extremely deadly H5N1 bird flu virus. Nevertheless it is worth noting that if an H7 bird flu virus mutates it is likely that the H5N1 variant of the virus will also be able to follow suit.
Dr. Jessica Belser who led the research project for the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention explained that it is perfectly normal for influenza viruses to constantly change and in view of the fact that there is the scare of a deadly bird flu outbreak is very important that they are watched extremely carefully at the moment.
Humans get infected by the influenza virus when it attaches itself to sugar receptor molecules that are found in the respiratory tract. The greater the particular influenza viruses' ability to latch onto these receptors the more contagious they are to humans and the more likely they are to spread quickly among groups of people. Present the deadly H5N1 and the H7 variants of the virus can not latch on to these receptors easily and thus they are not very contagious.
This new research however explains that three H7N2 strains as well as two H7N3 strains of the influenza virus found in North America were seen to be able to latch themselves onto receptors in both birds and humans. In particular one of the H7N2 virus strains was found to have the biggest ability to bind onto human sugar receptors in the respiratory tract.
This research underlines the importance of close monitoring of all bird flu viruses so that the world can prepare itself for any deadly pandemics which could break out as a result of mutating influenza viruses. The research was published by the respected medical journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.