Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bird flu increasingly dangerous in people

January 12, 2006


— Preliminary tests show that the strain of bird flu virus that has hit at least 15 people in Turkey has evolved in a way that may make it somewhat more hazardous to human beings, although it still lacks the capacity to be passed easily from person to person, international health officials said Wednesday.

The analysis, based on the sequencing of one of the virus' genes, suggests at least some of the H5N1 bird flu virus here carries a change in one of its proteins that lets it more easily attach to human cells and penetrate them, according to Michael Perdue of the World Health Organization.

"It's a little concerning because the virus is still trying new things in its evolution," said Perdue, who is overseeing the agency's response to the Turkish outbreak from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Influenza experts are studying the apparent change to determine its significance, Perdue said. A spokesman for Britain's Medical Research Council, which is involved in the research, said it would take a few days to confirm the preliminary findings.

The experts believe the genetic change may make it easier for the virus to pass from chickens to people. It has not given it the capacity to be easily passed from person to person - a trait the virus would need in order to trigger a global epidemic of bird flu.

Nancy Cox, who heads the influenza branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the change was found in one sample of H5N1 isolated from a Turkish child who recently died of the infection. The hemagglutinin protein, which the virus uses to attach to cells of the respiratory tract, had an alteration not usually seen in avian influenza viruses. The change has been seen in previous outbreaks, in China in 2003 and in Vietnam last year.

Experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned that the virus could become permanently entrenched in Turkey, thereby increasing its risk to people and the chance it could evolve further. "The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 could become endemic in Turkey," the FAO said in a statement.

Two deaths have been attributed to bird flu in Turkey. The fatalities were the first outside of China and Southeast Asia, areas where a total of 78 people have died in the past two years. More than 100 people have been hospitalized in Turkey with flu symptoms.

The virus has spread across 30 out of 81 Turkish provinces, from the far east to the Mediterranean coast, and has sparked a frantic effort to stem the disease by killing off infected poultry.


gr 12 years, 4 months ago

Posted by fossilhunter (anonymous) on January 12, 2006 at 8:03 a.m. (Suggest removal) Evolution in the act....What is the "intelligence" of a virus that is "created" in birds and is "designed" to start infecting people?

====== Clever ploy. Equate "change" with evolution. Everyone knows what evolution is - slime becomes humans. Therefore, conclude that changing viruses absolutely proves we came from slime. Equivocation.

Sounds like you are bringing in religion to the issue of design. You are implying "bad" design cannot be design. That is like saying people are killed by knives and therefore what kind of designer would make a knife. More specifically, you are judging God. However, I am not saying God designed viruses to harm - only going with what you are suggesting as the alternative to randomness. "Poor" design is not lack of design.

Some suggest that viruses are not living organisms, but only stray pieces of code which are taken up into cells - "it cannot move itself, it has no power source, and it has no machinery with which to duplicate itself". Some suggest Satan works with non-living viruses and manipulates them to cause harm. However, why do you attribute to God what neo-terrorists are doing with viruses? Let me explain.

Let's go with viruses are living, as similar situations can apply to bacteria which are living. Incurring a "change" to it's protein coat so the body's defense system doesn't recognize it, is not the type of "change" in quantity nor direction to lead to a new type of organism. Nothing different than a color change. Not support for "evolution" as implied.

gr 12 years, 4 months ago

If you recall, things like viruses and bacteria can only recombine if they are brought in close proximity to each other. So, if you have a human virus that only affects humans and a bird virus that only affects birds, how can a terrorist create a mixture? Bring them close to each other. Then, if you do get recombination, how do you get humans infected with it on a large scale? Maybe there's a way socially, if people don't think for themselves. How about pretending to create a vaccine for some supposed threat. That accomplishes mass infection portion. For the recombination part, how about incubating human viruses in bird eggs? All it takes is for one of those eggs to contain a bird virus and if recombination of even a small fragment takes place, you have a good probability of transfer. Increase the number of times this occurs and you may have something of epidemic proportions. I've even read something about using butterflies for incubating flu vaccines and imagine the new types of viruses we can get!

If you think this is far fetched, take a look:

and especially look at the link on CDC experiments.

So, before anyone starts saying that viruses are naturally "evolving" (in support of evolution) to infect humans, better look into what terrorists are doing. And then consider if you want to be a part of it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.