They discovered a new avian flu mutation capable of infecting and killing humans

A group of scientists discovered that the H5N1 strain of bird flu viruswho used death on an 11-year-old girl in Cambodia, would have evolved to better infect human cells, a finding that “should be treated with the utmost concern“, they warned. The scientists now said that there were “some indications” that the virus had already “crossed” a human and recognized the new causes before infecting the girl.

The minor, originally from the province of Prey Vent), fell ill on February 16 with symptoms of fever, cough and dry throat and died on February 23 at a children’s hospital in the capital Phnom Penh. He tested “positive for H5N1”, a highly contagious strain of bird flu, exclusively the government health surveillance agency (CDCD). Her father, 49, tested positive on February 24, although without symptoms.

Cambodian health authorities say there is still no evidence that the virus is spreading between people, suggesting that the daughter and father contracted the virus from the same source, probably a bird. “An investigation revealed that they both contracted (the virus) from birds in their village. No transmission between father and daughter was detected,” the CDCD explained.

Humans rarely contract bird flu, but when they do, it is usually through direct contact with infected birds.

“There are some indications that this virus has passed through a human. Every time these viruses enter a new host, there will be certain changes that allow them to replicate a little better or potentiate the cells of our respiratory tract a little better,” he explained. Dr. Erik Karlsson, who led the team at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia who deciphered the genetic sequence of the girl’s virus.

The doctor added that the virus had not yet fully adapted to humans, saying that above all it was “still a bird virus.” He added that it is unlikely that the new reactions occurred within the girl’s body, but that they probably existed in a “cloud” of viruses with random genetic changes within birds.

Cases of bird complaints grow and the outbreak is attributed to “migratory birds” from the northern hemisphere

The researchers said that the strain in its current form is unlikely to cause a major human-to-human outbreakas this required a mutation that would allow it to bind to a receptor found on cells in the nose.

Genetic testing revealed that the girl had contracted the strain of H5N1, which is endemic to wild birds and poultry in Cambodia. This differs from the type that quickly infested around the world and infected many birds and mammals, but Erik Karlsson said this was not a reason to downplay the threat.

complaint bird
In the last two decades there have been almost 900 confirmed cases of H5N1 (contagious strain of bird flu) in humans with 457 deaths, according to the WHO.

“This was a zoonotic spill [de un virus que infecta a una nueva especie] and must be treated with the utmost concern,” he warned. “Something may be happening here in Cambodia and something may be happening on the other side of the world in South America, but we really don’t know what could cause the problem tomorrow.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) called for vigilance at the beginning of February due to the risk of transmission of the avian complaint to mammals after detecting cases in foxes, otters and sea lions, although it stressed that the risk of transmission to humans is low. .

Avian flu in humans: an 11-year-old girl died after becoming infected and her father was also infected

H5N1 has a human mortality rate of about 50 percent. and the WHO has recorded only 868 confirmed cases of H5N1 and 457 deaths in the last two decades. But after the infections in Cambodia, the organization assured that “the global situation linked to H5N1”, the original strain of the current avian flu epidemic, “is worrisome.”

The WHO cast the situation in Cambodia as “concerning” in a notable shift in rhetoric. “The global H5N1 situation is concerning given the widespread spread of the virus in birds around the world and increasing reports of cases in mammals, including humans,” he said. Sylvie Briand, the agency’s pandemic prevention officer. However, “at the moment it is too early to know if it is a human-to-human transmission or linked to common exposure to the same environment.”

complaint bird
Tens of millions of domestic birds around the world, many with the H5N1 strain, were culled in the most recent outbreak.

The strain has devastated the global bird population over the past year. More than 15 million animals died from the virus itself, while governments collectively euthanized more than 200 million worldwide to slow the spread of the virus, including 58 million in the United States alone. The global outbreak is also responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of wild birds.

Concerns about the spread of bird flu to humans arose this month after cases also emerged in mammals, including mink and sea lions, bringing the virus one step closer to infecting and spreading among humans. The virus usually has a harder time spreading between humans because the fatality rate is so high and the infection can kill very quickly.which means that people die before they can pass it on.

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Bird flu infections in people are rare. However, it can happen when enough virus gets into the eyes, nose, mouth, or is inhaled. People with close or prolonged unprotected contact (not wearing respiratory and eye protection) with infected birds or in locations where sick birds, their mucus, saliva, or feces have been contaminated may be at increased risk of infection.

But it is unlikely that a human could contract the virus by eating poultry or game birds because the disease is sensitive to heat, which means that the meat will not contain the virus as long as it is cooked properly. An infected bird may experience tiredness, stop eating, have swollen body parts, and cough and sneeze. Other birds can die suddenly without any symptoms.

Symptoms in humans are high fever (often over 100 F), cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and a general feeling of being unwell, as well as pain in the abdomen and chest, and diarrhea. It can quickly become a severe respiratory illness, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. People may also experience altered mental status or seizures.


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