How Swine Flu Spread In Humans – The Path to a Flu Pandemic Illustrations: Giulio Frigieri, Paul Scruton Click on image for larger graphic. or click here for full version

As the United Nations issues new warnings and Hollywood disaster films stir our fears. Avian influenza is back in the news again. We met the man who first warned of the plague 50 years ago, and now he’s worrying again.

How Swine Flu Spread In Humans

The audience continues to speculate about the killer’s identity until the last frame. It’s a Mushu pig at Gwyneth. Paltrow is consumed in a Kowloon restaurant, or Laurence Fishburne, who plays the deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suggest that it’s all the bird’s fault? “No one needs to be armed with bird flu,” he said in one episode. “The birds are doing that.”

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In the end, Soderbergh seemed to have it both ways. It said the culprit was a combination of bird flu and Nipah. It is a bat-borne virus prevalent on Malaysian pig farms. However, in real life, there is little doubt where the real threat lies.

“I haven’t seen this movie yet. But bird flu is the real killer lurking in the shadows,” said world-renowned avian influenza expert Robert Webster. when I pursued him on his way from Oxford to Malta where he There is a back-to-back flu meeting. “Nature has shown us that there is a virus that kills 50% of those infected. We ignore the dangers.”

It was a warning that Webster, a virologist known as The “pope of bird flu” has been ringing for more than 50 years, initially out of the suspicion of his colleagues. But recently there has been more respect. The virus that keeps Webster awake at night is H5N1.

The avian influenza virus first emerged as a public health risk in 1997 when it caused 16 human infections and six deaths in Hong Kong, prompting Margaret Chan, then Hong Kong’s director of public health. And now Director-General of the World Health Organization, the territory’s wet markets had to be shut down and mass culling of poultry started.

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However, a resurgence of human infections in Thailand and Vietnam in 2003, followed by outbreaks in chicken farms across Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe in 2005, made H5N1 the household name While the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009 provoked The World Health Organization declares an epidemic “We were very lucky in 2009,” he said.

Meanwhile, Webster asserts that the threat from H5N1 has not disappeared. If you believe the latest scientific information A new “mutated” virus, code-named 2.3.2., has moved from China and Vietnam to Central Asia and Eastern Europe. spread by migratory water birds

Meanwhile, in H5N1 “hotspots” such as Egypt where other strains are endemic in the poultry industry. The virus continues to kill many people.

As Webster told the International Group of Flu Experts at St Hilda’s College, Oxford earlier this month: “The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza appears to be spreading to Eurasia once again. which is probably caused by the migration of wild birds It’s only a matter of time before it happens. come to America.”

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Webster, who is 79 and raised on a farm in New Zealand. Spend half your life on the path of bird flu. from the Division of Infectious Diseases at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. where he chairs the world’s only laboratory studying human-animal transmission in influenza, Webster has hatched thousands of chicken eggs in search of a life-saving vaccine. Researcher’s career

“The world owes a lot to Bob,” says Ilaria Capua, director of the national reference laboratory for avian influenza in Padua, Italy.

Today, Webster spends most of the year out in the field. Traveled to bird flu hotspots such as China, Bangladesh and Indonesia, Australian influenza researcher Graeme Laver said. who died in 2008 along with his former colleagues. Webster was among the first to recognize that migratory waterfowl are natural hosts of the influenza virus in nature.

He and Lever began developing the idea in the 1960s when they were walking along a beach on Australia’s southeast coast. And found that the coastline was strewn with dead mutton. In 1961, researchers isolated the influenza virus – H5N1 as it happened – from a dead seagull in South Africa. They wondered if the flu had killed the birds too.

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With the help of a $500 grant from the World Health Organization. and support from their department at the Australian National University in Canberra. Webster and Lever traveled to the Great Barrier Reef. There, with their wives and young children, they snorkel day and night removing cotton from hundreds of birds’ trachea and stoppers. Eighteen people had antibodies to Asian flu. It is a human virus that caused an epidemic in 1957.

The question is, have the birds recently been exposed to the virus or are they responsible for spreading it? It was a question that would lead Webster from Peru’s Guano Island to a lake in northern Canada. arctic circle and other places where a large number of migratory birds But the moment Eureka came in his own backyard. “We traveled all over the world and got nothing,” Webster recalls. “And then someone in my lab said it was duck hunting season in Memphis.”

Webster and his colleagues brought broom equipment to a bait shop along the Mississippi River. and sat beside two women whose job was to pluck feathers. At the end of the hunting season They found the missing link: 5% of ducks carried the influenza virus. The following year, they traveled to a duck migration area in Alberta. And found that up to one in four birds were infected.

Although it kills mutton and seagulls. The virus does not affect ducks. On the contrary, they looked completely healthy.

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Webster encounters his “Trojan Duck”. Lives and breeds viruses in the wild. infects chickens and other poultry Whenever they defecate in open water, while H5N1 and other wild viruses such as H9N2 and H7N7 are lethal to farmed poultry But most ducks are not sick at all. until now The researchers identified 16 subspecies of hemagglutinin (HA) in water bird populations. These subtypes constantly rotate and change their genetic makeup through a mechanism known as antigen drift..

However, perhaps Webster’s greatest contribution to science came from his insight that an epidemic began when avian and human influenza viruses “linked” or swapped genes to create new strains. Webster, a friend of the Royal Society, called the process “the slaughter.” “viral sex”

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In the last 100 years it has happened five times. The first and worst likelihood was in 1918-1919 when the H1N1 virus caused an epidemic that killed an estimated 50 million people. 1957 and 1968 happened again. causing 1 to 4 million deaths

The last reclassification event occurred in 2009, when a virus associated with an epidemic strain in 1918 caused worldwide alerts. It spurred international pandemic response plans and multibillion-pound production of medicines and vaccines.

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Scientists are still unsure what caused the new classification and why Mexico was the center – H1N1 is what scientists call the “H1N1”. The “three associations” containing human influenza genes and genes from both North American and Asian swine flu strains.

Despite investing millions in surveillance since the 1990s, Webster says the virus caused influenza watchers to “take their pants off.” “In 2009, we focused on H5N1. Variations will appear suddenly. Because the virus has been stable for many years. It is in the monogamous phase. The point of view is that it cannot fertilize with other viruses.

But what if the 2009 swine-origin virus forced influenza researchers to re-evaluate their knowledge of the flu and give them new appreciation for its shape-shifting ability? Most people still don’t know the information.

With an estimated 18,000 worldwide deaths from swine flu to date – about half the number of seasonal flu deaths in the United States every winter – skepticism about the threat of an influenza pandemic is high. unprecedented

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“At the moment, politicians don’t care about the flu. And you can’t blame them. No one is dying,” Webster said. “however When bird flu enters the United States I foresee that people will be alert and need vaccination quickly.”

For webster That’s just a matter of time. Since 2003, H5N1 has infected 565 people and killed 331, a mortality rate of almost 60%. It has also killed or forced the slaughter of more than 400 million domestic poultry and is worth about 20 billion dollars

Last month United Nations food and

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