Proof Positivity: On The Science Beat

Bird Flu Pandemic Unlikely

With all the news about swine flu it’s time for a little good news.  The likelihood of a bird flu pandemic is slim.  To cause a pandemic you would need human to human transmission of the illness and to date that hasn’t happened.

“two genetic mutations would need to happen to the virus at the same time in order to enable it to infect the right cells
and become transmissible. At present, H5 viruses can only infect one of the two main types of cell in the mouth and nose,  a type of cell known as a ciliated cell. In order for H5 to transmit from human to human, it would need to be able to infect
the other, non-ciliated type of cell as well.”

“Our new research suggests that it is less likely than we thought that H5N1 will cause a pandemic, because it’s far harder for  it to infect the right cells. The odds of it undergoing the kind of double mutation that would be needed are extremely low. However, viruses mutate all the time, so we shouldn’t be complacent. Our new findings do not mean that this kind of pandemic could never
happen. It’s important that scientists keep working on vaccines so that people can be protected if such an event occurs,” added Professor Barclay.

Science Daily

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