Friday, February 14, 2014

Bloomberg: Pandemic Potential Seen in Gene Changes of Bird Flu #H7N9

Feb 13, 2014

“Each new strain could be one that is better genetically equipped to transmit form person to person,” Ian Mackay, an associate professor of clinical virology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, said in an e-mail today. “Without contemporary sequence analysis, such a strain could emerge from among the ‘noise’ of human infection by less efficient strains, to begin spreading rapidly and with pandemic potential.” 

The authors didn’t show why changes in the PB1 gene might be related to increased pandemic risk, said Masato Tashiro, a director at Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, who reviewed the Eurosurveillance report. Other genes may contribute to the risk, he said.

‘Interesting, Important’

Still, the research is “interesting and important,” Tashiro said today in an e-mail.
“The H7N9 virus has undergone many gene reassortments with different domestic H9N2 viruses in poultry in different areas in China,” he said, adding that it’s not clear when the genetic reassortments occurred.

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