A bird flu sample taken from a Chilean man who fell ill last month contains two genetic mutations that are signs of adaptation to mammals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the risk to humans is still low, and yet the ruling class is now working even harder on a “vaccine”.
A third human tested positive for avian influenza, or bird flu, in China and later died last month, according to a CDC report. This is the first reported death from the virus. No additional human cases have been linked to the Chilean man, who still remains hospitalized.
“There are three major categories of changes we think H5 has to undergo to switch from being a bird virus to being a human virus,” said Richard J. Webby, a bird flu expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “The sequences from the person in Chile have one of those classes of changes. But we also know that of those three sets of changes, this is the easiest one for the virus to make.”
“We understand [the mutations] to be a step on the path to adaptation to humans and increased risk to humans,” said Anice C. Lowen, an influenza virologist at Emory University. “So certainly it’s concerning to see them.” But the mutations are still not “significant” enough for them to pose a real risk to humans just yet, she added.
PB2 mutations have been found in other mammals infected with this version of the virus, as well as in some peopleinfected with other versions of H5N1. The mutations most likely emerged in the Chilean patient over the course of his infection, experts said. -The New York Times
“Those genetic changes have been seen previously with past H5N1 infections, and have not resulted in spread between people,” Vivien Dugan, acting director of the influenza division at the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, it’s important to continue to look carefully at every instance of human infection, as well as other mammalian spillover events, and to track viral evolution in birds,” Dr. Dugan said. “We need to remain vigilant for changes that would make these viruses more dangerous to people.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be testing one vaccine from Zoetis, one from Merck Animal Health, and two from the USDA’s Ag Research Service trying to decease bird flu. Zoetis claims it delivered its vaccine to USDA’s stockpile in 2016, after a bird flu outbreak in 2015; however, the company says USDA never tapped into the stockpile.