There is a new avian influenza AKA bird flu on the loose known as strain H6N1 and it has sickened its first human.
This flu first showed up in a woman that was 20 years of age and lived in central Taiwan. Taiwanese investigators are broadcasting she was working in a delicatessen when she started suffering the flu-like signs and also having shortness of breath. She was put into the hospital back in May of this year.
The young woman has completely recovered from the avian influenza after having treatments from antiviral drugs. She had not traveled out of the country for three months prior to her coming down with the contagion, and she stated she had not had any close contact with birds or poultry. There were numerous interviews held with about 35 friends and relatives of hers, but there were no other H6N1 cases discovered. Examiners say the cause of how she became infected stays unclear.
The H6N1 avian influenza is different from a new strain named H7N9 which has infected almost 140 individuals living in Taiwan and China up to this date. That bird flu strain has caused nearly 45 deaths.
H6N1 has been going around the bird population in Taiwan ever since the 1970s, stated the researchers. The group is being led by Dr. Ho-Sheng Wu, who works as a scientist Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control. The study investigators found out that the virus in humans closely looked like the one that infected birds when they sequenced a genome of the contagion that had been removed from the patient’s airway.
They discovered this avian influenza strain inside the woman had a protein mutation that was found on the virus’ surface which might have allowed it to become more proficient in infecting humans. The mutation permitted the virus to change its ability to penetrate cells so it was able to bind to a receptor which is found in airways of all people. This could make the virus more contagious.
As all such viruses continue to grow and change, it always increases the possible risk of human infection, Wu added.
His research over this newest avian influenza study was printed on Nov. 13 in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
There was an additional commentary in the same issue and it raised familiar questions about the bird flu.
It is just a matter of time before such viruses change into a pandemic, stated Dr. Marion Koopmans, who works at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.
The other newest avian influenza strain, known as H7N9, was first reported by experts back in March. Health officials suspect that most people were infected from coming in contact with live fowl in various meat markets. It was also reported that human-to-human spreading had happened in August between an elderly man and his daughter, age 32, who was taking care of him. Specialists then stated that the transmission helped to give an opportune reminder to everyone to remain very vigilant. The dangerous threat which is posed by avian influenza strain H7N9 has in no way gone by the wayside.
But for now, people must also watch out for the H6N1 avian influenza as well since it is now also attacking humans.
By Kimberly Ruble