Bird flu mutated – deadly to humans

12-03-2008 | |

The bird flu virus has mutated, making it easier for the virus to infect humans, reports NaturalNews.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, the avian influenza virus has mutated.
“We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans,” said lead researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka.
Natural News reports that one of the primary factors that keeps bird flu from infecting humans is that the virus has evolved to reproduce most effectively in the bodies of birds, which have an average body temperature of 106°F (41°C). Humans, in contrast, have an average body temperature of 98.6° (37°C), with temperatures in the nose and throat even lower (91.4°, or 33°C). This vast temperature difference makes it very difficult for the bird flu virus to survive and grow in the human body.
In the current study, researchers found that a strain of H5N1 has developed a mutation that allows it to thrive in these lower temperatures.
“The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus,” Kawaoka said. However, he pointed out that one mutation is not sufficient to turn H5N1 into a major threat to humans.
“Clearly there are more mutations that are needed. We don’t know how many mutations are needed for them to become pandemic strains.”

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