Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Deadly Hybrid Flu Possible

Model of H5N1 virusImage via Wikipedia

Stronger strain could develop if avian, seasonal viruses combine, scientists warn

MONDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Research in mice suggests the avian flu virus and the ordinary seasonal flu virus could combine to create a new deadly kind of flu, researchers say.

A single bit of genetic material from the seasonal virus converted the avian flu -- officially known as H5N1 -- into a very dangerous form, the scientists report in a study published in the Feb. 22-26 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Some hybrids between H5N1 virus and seasonal influenza viruses were more pathogenic than the original H5N1 viruses. That is worrisome," study senior author Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a news release.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on avian flu.

-- Randy Dotinga

Avian flu, also known as bird flu, has killed 262 people,
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