A 73 year old woman has been identified as patient zero, as yet another avian flu virus that has not previously infected humans, jumps the species barrier.
The professor, Chen Ze, of the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products, a research arm of a state-owned pharmaceutical firm, said H10N8, which was previously found in wild birds, had mutated to infect humans.
“There is a chance of more cases of human infection in the future,” said Chen, who in April warned of the threats from H10N8 and H6N6 amid the initial spread of human H7N9 cases.
Chen and his team isolated the H10N8 virus from the Dongting Lake wetland in 2007. Tests on mice found that the virus easily infected mammals.
“Our findings showed the virus was capable of infecting humans, and it has the capability of mammal-to-mammal transmission, but whether there is going to be human-to-human transmission is hard to tell at the moment,” said Chen.
He said the case for closing live poultry markets on the mainland had become stronger, at least in flu season, to reduce risks.
The woman who died in Jiangxi was 73 years old. She was admitted to hospital on November 30 with severe pneumonia and died on December 6. (source)
The number of influenza viruses moving from animals to humans is increasing. The worry for scientists and doctors is that an infection new to humans will combine in a patient with normal seasonal flu and their genetic material will mix. It’s this genetic reassortment that gives novel viruses their transmission ability.
Many viruses are not overly virulent, but because it’s new to the human population there is no immunity at all and that causes the illness to be more severe than a regular bout of flu. Those who are debilitated or immunosuppressed, and the very young often suffer higher serious illness and fatality rates than the population at large.
If a particularly virulent virus, like the strain of H1N1 that caused the 1918-1920 pandemic, the death toll can be in the tens of millions. Our second visitation of H1N1 was not so severe. Even though the viruses were not totally identical they were both of the same strain. Those who lived through the 1918-1920 pandemic had passed on some conferred immunity to their descendants.
The worst combination, as the 1918-1920 pandemic proved, is a new virus that is virulent combining with seasonal flu, which then spreads through the population.
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!