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Bird Flu 2015

posted Mar 12, 2015, 11:33 AM by Andrew Chadick


03/11 Bird flu mutating in China



The H7N9 bird flu virus is being passed around from flock to flock of chickens and ducks, is mutating, and is now a bigger threat than ever to humanity, researchers reported Wednesday.


The virus, which was first reported in people just two years ago, has settled into southeastern China, Guan Yi of the University of Hong Kong and colleagues reported. Unless drastic measures are taken to eradicate it, the virus will continue to mutate, they warn in a report published in the journal Nature.


"H7N9 viruses have spread from eastern to southern China and become persistent in chickens," they wrote. It's also swapping genes with other types of flu viruses, giving rise to new strains. Any one of them could start a pandemic in time, they said.


"This expansion of the genetic diversity of influenza viruses in China means that unless effective control measures are in place, such as permanent closure of live poultry markets, central slaughtering and preventing inter-regional poultry transportation during disease outbreaks, and backed by systematic surveillance, it is reasonable to expect the H7N9 and other viruses to persist and cause a substantial number of severe human infections," they wrote.


They've found at least 48 different subtypes. H7N9 avian influenza has infected 622 people since 2013 and killed 227 of them.