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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Possibility Of European H5N1/H7N7 Recombination?

This is important. The gulls in Finland that have some sort of bird flu may signal H5N1 entering an area in which other strains of bird flu are found:
H5N1 in Scandinavian countries would be particularly dangerous. In 2003 there was an outbreak of H7N7 in the Netherlands. Over 30 million birds were culled. However H5N7 isolates were found, indicting H7N7 had reassorted with H5N2. Reassortment, or swapping of whole genes, happens during dual infections, when the same host is infected with two different viruses. The H5N7 isolated in 2003 from a mallard duck in Denmark was novel and signaled new genetic combinations between H5 and H7 viruses.

Dual infections can also lead to recombination, where portions of genes are swapped. H7 is dangerous to humans because it can be easily transmitted human to human, which is a property that is lacking in H5N1. However, a dual infection involving H5N1 and H7N7 could lead to recombination where H5N1 acquires the human receptor binding domain on H7.
That would be a very, very unfortunate event.

Yesterday I started to cough and noticed that feathers were starting to grow on my nose. Should I be concerned?
That happens to me too when I use someone else's laptop on a plane. I wouldn't worry.

If you begin to quack or waddle, seek medical help immediately.
This is serious news. It appears the countdown is being shortened consoderably.
I'm not sure. We will have to wait a couple of weeks to find out what how this is likely to play out in Europe.
Well, I hope you are right. A friend isn't all that optomistic.
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