Thursday, June 07, 2007

Indonesians Concerned About P0ssible Highly Dangerous "Mutation" Of H5N1 Virus

Population Accused Of Being Ignorant Of Threat Posed By Bird Flu

This is not good news. Bird flu watchers have long feared two key mutations in the H5N1 virus : the first mutation being one that allows the virus to pass more easily from bird to humans, the second major mutation being the one that then allows the virus to spread easily between humans.

Indonesian bird flu experts are now terrified that the H5N1 has just undergone that first major mutation.

From Reuters :
The H5N1 bird flu virus in Indonesia may have undergone a mutation that allows it to jump more easily from poultry to humans, the head of the country's commission on bird flu control said on Wednesday.

"In the past it took exposure of high intensity and density to the virus to get infected. There are now suspicions, early indications that this has become easier," Bayu Krisnamurthi told reporters.

A microbiologist at the bird flu commission said the suspicions were based on preliminary findings of molecular genetic tests conducted at laboratories in Indonesia.

"Virus samples from poultry cases have increasingly shown a similarity in their amino acid structure to virus samples extracted from humans," Wayan Teguh Wibawan told Reuters.

"This makes it easier for the virus to attach to human receptors," he said, referring to receptor cells lining the human throat and lungs.

For the H5N1 virus to pass easily from bird to human, it would have to be able to readily attach itself to these special cells. Wayan said he had spotted "gradual changes" in the virus sample he receives every month.

Scientists are worried about the virus's persistence and ability to adapt to new environments and hosts, fearing this increases the chances of the virus mutating into a form that can jump easily between people, triggering a pandemic.

Contact with sick fowl is the most common way humans become infected with bird flu.

Indonesian authorities are also concerned that widespread ignorance in their country about the dangers of the bird flu virus is negatively impacting on their ability to fight its spread.

From BBC :

Efforts to bring the epidemic under control will depend on better public education, according to bird flu expert Bayu Krisnamurthi.

He was addressing a news conference on the second anniversary of the first human infection in Indonesia.

Mr Krisnamurthi, the head of the committee in charge of bird flu control, admitted that while the majority of Indonesians knew of the disease, only one in seven realised it could kill them. Given that the disease is endemic in poultry across most of Indonesia, this suggests that the authorities have a long way to go if they are ever going to arrest the spread of the virus.

Until Indonesians are aware of the possibility of catching the disease, and of the likelihood of dying once infected, they will not take proper precautions and will not seek immediate medical help if they come into contact with diseased birds.

Recent figures on the ratio of bird flu infections in humans to subsequent deaths reveal that the H5N1 virus appears to have a mortality rate as high as 87%.

Indonesia has seen at least three more human bird flu fatalities in the past six days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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