Thursday, November 02, 2006

A New, Vaccine-Resistant Strain of Bird Flu

From the "it may be nothing, but..." department:

National Geographic reports that a new strain of bird flu is spreading rapidly in China, and this strain is resistant to the vaccine that has been used so far in poultry.

A newly discovered bird flu strain has emerged in China and has spread rapidly through poultry in Southeast Asia. Human infections by the new strain have also turned up in several locations, including both farms and urban centers, intensifying fears of a worldwide flu pandemic that could kill millions.

Magnifying those concerns is the vaccine-selective nature of the new strain, which means that existing animal vaccines are less effective on it than they are on previously known bird flu types.

"However, we don't have any evidence to show whether this virus is more dangerous or less dangerous than any other H5N1 [bird flu] viruses," said Yi Guan, director of the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Hong Kong in China.
Disaster plans for pandemic flu are essential. Whether the culprit turns out to be bird flu or some other strain, it's not a question of "if" but "when."

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