Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mutating flu virus

I'm not sure this really even qualifies as news
The H5N1 strain of bird flu seen in human cases in China has mutated as compared with strains found in human cases in Vietnam.

Chinese labs have found that the genetic order of the H5N1 virus seen in humans infected in China is different from that found in humans in Vietnam, Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

In China's human cases, the virus has mutated "to a certain degree," health ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an was quoted as saying.

"But the mutation cannot cause human-to-human transmission of the avian flu," he noted.
Viruses which use RNA as their genetic material have high mutation rates. The differences aren't necessarily important as one would expect some random accumulation of mutations. There is nothing to suggest the virus is increasingly able to infect humans or be transmitted from human to human. That would be big news.


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