Article: Flu virulence linked to species jump

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by Robert Karl Sto, Feb 6, 2004.

  1. Flu virulence linked to species jump Structural information on the 1918 influenza virus could help
    control a future pandemic | By Cathy Holding

    The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 killed more people than died in the First World War-at least 20 million-
    but why this strain of the disease was so virulent has remained a mystery. Analysis of the crystal
    structure of viral hemagglutinin (HA)-a major surface antigen that mediates binding to the host cell-
    shows the 1918 virus antigen is related to the avian antigen, suggesting that the virulence resulted
    from a recent chicken/human cross-species jump.

    Alan Hay, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research
    on Influenza at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and who was not involved in the
    studies, told The Scientist, "All this information helps us to understand what sort of changes may
    facilitate human infection by an avian virus. The accumulated data that we have on the structural
    detail helps us to look for changes which might have an impact on the ability of these viruses to
    spread within the [human] population

    Read the rest at The

    Comment: This is a more detailed article on the evolution of viruses than the previous one I posted
    - goes into the science more.

    Say, where did the chickens get the virus from? I mean, if the virus can jump from chickens to
    humans, and humans have an annual world wide strain of the disease, isn't it reasonable to assume
    that at some time the chickens will catch the virus from humans, making the subsequent strain
    preadapted to humans and so more virulent?

    Posted by Robert Karl Stonjek.