Swine flu is not gone, and it is not stagnant. Though the public health scare about the 2009 swine flu pandemic subsided, the virus-like avian flu-remains in pockets of animals, shuffling its genes while hidden from the watchful eyes of virus experts. Virologists call this genetic switcheroo “reassortment,” and it’s how new and dangerous strains of flu snuck up on humankind in the past-and how they could do it again. This time, though, virologist Jinhua Liu and colleagues are trying to get a jump on the viruses.

For a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, this team of Chinese researchers simulated what could be a dire situation for humans: swine flu (H1N1) and avian flu (H9N2) together in one animal. When these flu strains are together they can exchange genetic material. So to test what that mixing might produce, Liu’s team swapped genes between the two and created 127 hybrid viruses, testing each on mice.

Eight of these hybrid strains turned out to be more virulent and dangerous in the mice than their parent strains of swine flu and bird flu. According to Dutch virologist Ab Osterhaus, we can’t be sure that these eight nasty strains are the ones that would hit humans hardest-animal studies aren’t perfect.

“Mice mirror, to a certain extent, what happens in humans,” he says, but they are not perfect model animals. Liu agrees. He plans to investigate how contagious his new viral blends are in guinea pigs and ferrets-animals whose respiratory system better reflects our own feverish battle with flu.

Continued:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/02/28/in-bird-flu-swine-flu-hybrids-a-clue-to-what-makes-a-super-strain/

China
•  Two cases of H9N2 infection detailed (Link) Abstract: Infection Of Immunocompromised Human By Avian H9n2 Influenza A Virus  (Link)

•  Don’t underrate severity of flu outbreak (translated) (Link)

Egypt
•  WHO confirms 3 human H5N1 cases (1 fatal) (Link)

Indonesia
•  Bird Flu Strikes 11 Regencies in West Java  (Link)
•  Garut regent Not Want Forced Depopulation (translated) (Link)

Indonesia
•  NY Sub is Negative Bird Flu Patient (Link)
•  Riau (Central Samatra): Children Three Years Indicated Avian Influenza (translated) (Link)

•  Central Java: 14 villagers from 2 villages suffer ILI symptoms similar to bird flu (translated) (Link)
•  Two Bird Flu Suspects (translated) (Link)
•  Information on Garut district from Bahasa Indonesian Wikipedia (translated) (Link)
•  Information on Klaten district from Bahasa Indonesian Wikipedia (translated) (Link)
•  Information on Sukoharjo district from Bahasa Indonesian Wikipedia (translated) (Link)
•  Garut: Infants Suspected Bird Flu Transmission (translated) (Link) (translated) (Link)
•  Garut: Baby Nine Months Suspected Bird Flu (translated) (Link)
•  Sukoharjo: 14 People Affected Ili Easter Many Dead Poultry (translated) (Link) (Link)
•  Kendal: One Citizens Kendal Suspected Bird Flu Infected (translated) (Link) Kendall Region: Map (Link)
•  Kendal: Bird Flu Case, Must Be Inspection Laboratory (translated) (Link)
•  Condition Of Dr. Slamet Isolation Room Shocks Patients’ Families (translated) (Link)

Iraq
•  ProMED: Avian Influenza (20): Iraq, Not (Link)

Pakistan
•  Fighting Swine Flu in Pakistan (Link)

Poland
•  The ravages of influenza in Poland (Link)

South Korea
•  Fresh case of bird flu confirmed in South Korea (Link)

•  Fresh bird flu strain confirmed in southern South Korea (Link)

Thailand
•  H (Link)

United States
•  AZ: Flu cases continue to climb in Arizona (Link)
•  NM: New Mexico Dept. Of Health Reports 12-Flu-Related Deaths This Flu Season (Link)
•  OR: Glencoe High School student dies, possibly from the flu (Link)

•  CA: Flu Season Peaks in California (Link)
•  OH: State officials say Ohio flu season peaking (Link)
•  TN: Serious Flu Cases On The Rise (Link)

•  SD: Flu widespread in South Dakota (Link)

Vietnam
•  Three cases die of A/H1N1 flu virus (Link)

•  Seven A/H1N1 cases reported in Ben Tre (Link)

General
•  Feds award $215 million grants for Novavax and VaxInnate to develop new flu vaccines (Link)
•  CIDRAP: WHO: North America the global hot spot for flu (Link)
•  CIDRAP: Swine workers have higher rates of antibodies to swine flu viruses, novel H1N1 (Link)

•  Japan, Bangladesh, the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu outbreak (translated) (Link)

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