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Asking about Bird Flu

1. What virus is responsible for Bird flu?

There are many subtypes of influenza "A" virus, which affect in a different way poultry, causing mild or serious diseases to birds.

The most lethal subtype of influenza "A" virus is H5N1, also known to be very dangerous to humans.

2. Why do we call the virus H5N1?

On the surface of the virus are some proteins called Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA).
Hemagglutinin allows the virus to initiate the infecting process and Neuraminidase prevents the newly formed virus from exiting the host cell. There exist 16 known HA subtypes and 9 NA subtypes of influenza virus. The H5N1 virus has in its structure hemagglutinin type 5 and neuraminidase type 1.

3. Why must we worry about Bird flu?

- H5N1 virus has caused by now millions of bird deaths, and hundreds of humans only in Asia;
- If the virus mutates it will spread from human to human, causing a global pandemic;
- Chicken industry will be seriously affected.

4. How can H5N1 virus infect humans?

Getting in close contact with an infected bird can lead to human contamination. People that take care, or sell in markets such infected birds, like chicken, turkey and ducks, inhale particles from dried excrements, or feathers which are contaminated.

5. How can we treat Bird flu?

Untill now doctors have used antiviral drugs obtaining good results, and they are waiting for the accreditation of a H5N1 vaccine.

6. Which vaccines are currently being tested?

The Sanofi Pasteur vaccine (Swiftwater, PA) and the Chiron vaccine (Emeryville, CA), both made out of inactivated H5N1 viruses are being tested by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

7. How did they obtain the H5N1 virus to create a vaccine?

Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, applied the reverse genetics technique to create this H5N1 reference virus, and then gave it to Sanofi Pasteur and Chiron to test it.

8. What were the results of the tests?

There was a promising result proving that a double dose of 90-g each can stimulate the right immune response for the H5N1 virus.

9. Can an under study vaccine give me the flu?

No, because these vaccines are made out of inactivated H5N1 viruses.

10. What other studies concerning Bird flu are being made?

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are testing if the intradermal dose may be as immunizing as a larger dose administered intramuscularly and if adjuvants like Aluminum hydroxide and MF59 help in any way.

11. What measures will the Government take in case of Bird Flu infections?

The government will prohibit selling chickens in the markets while there is a threat of bird flu and also will suspend the imports of chicken from the infected countries; will advise people to stay away from any kind of birds; will ask farmers to report any suspect deaths observed on poultry.

About the Author: So, if you want to find out more about asian bird flu or even about bird flu vaccine please click this link

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