A genetically mutated avian flu virus is believed to be behind a string of deadly outbreaks in bird populations over the past two years, a scientist said on Tuesday, warning that the new virus had the potential to be more lethal than its ancestor should it infect humans.   Virologist I Gusti Ngurah Mahardhika said the government’s vaccination program with a large number of poultry farms in the past few years may backfire because the mutation was partly suspected to have been caused by an outdated vaccine.

“I have strong evidence that the old vaccine seed [already developed by the country’s vaccine makers] cannot stop the new virus,” said Mahardhika, who is also head of the Biomedical and Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Udayana University’s Veterinary Medicine School.

He said isolated virus samples taken from already vaccinated farms in Java, Sumatra, Bali and Sulawesi from 2008 to 2009 were compared with samples from their ancestor H5N1 virus taken from Legok, Banten, in 2003.

“From the study, we found genetic differences of up to 8.7 percent from the ancestor virus,” he said. The Legok virus is still being used by most vaccine producers here as the vaccine seed and the recent mutations may mean the seed virus is outdated.

more at link…not news you want to hear but also not surprising given how the virus can change.


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