Stamp out the avian influenza virus quickly

While avian influenza virus crossing the species barrier and directly infecting humans happens only occasionally, human-to-human spread has been rare and not sustained. But mutations in the virus or genetic reassortment could likely result in sustained transmission between humans thus increasing the risk of a pandemic influenza.

Editorial: H5N1 – No room for complacency

  Though India is one of the six countries where the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) is considered endemic in poultry and several places in Kerala are favourite destinations for migratory birds, the State remained outbreak-free until recently. But on November 20, Kerala was robbed of that status when two outbreaks in ducks occurred in … Continue reading Editorial: H5N1 – No room for complacency

Editorial: No immediate threat from H7N9

The influenza A(H7N9) virus may not have the characteristics required to quickly and easily spread among humans but the first confirmed case of human-to-human transmission recently reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) indicates that it is not completely devoid of such ability either. The novel bird flu strain that emerged in China in late … Continue reading Editorial: No immediate threat from H7N9

New way to develop influenza A vaccine

Precious time lost in developing an effective vaccine against influenza A viruses that jump from animals to humans and spread across the world causing a pandemic is quite close to becoming history. According to a study published today (May 30) in the Science Translational Medicine journal, an effective vaccine would be available for use against … Continue reading New way to develop influenza A vaccine

Editorial: Silent spread of H7N9

With the continued spread of influenza A(H7N9) virus to 127 people in China and a concomitant increase in the number of deaths (26), the outbreak has confirmed what the World Health Organisation had earlier noted — H7N9 is “definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far.” Nineteen people infected with … Continue reading Editorial: Silent spread of H7N9

H7N9 silently spreads in humans and birds

The novel H7N9 avian flu virus that is currently circulating in certain regions in China has bewildered public health officials within and outside the country. To start with, H7N9 is a product of reassortment of three avian influenza virus strains that “infect only birds.” Reassortment happens when gene swapping takes place between two or more … Continue reading H7N9 silently spreads in humans and birds

Editorial: The next contagion

The influenza A(H7N9) virus, a novel bird flu strain that emerged in China, has infected nine people and already killed three. Unlike the H5N1 virus that is widely endemic in poultry in Asia, this strain is unique in several ways. The most important among them is that it has turned out to be lethal; the … Continue reading Editorial: The next contagion

Bird flu viruses have potential to cause a ‘human pandemic’

Published in The Hindu on May 3, 2012 At last, the controversial paper by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison on mammalian transmissibility of H5N1 (bird flu) virus through genetic manipulation is published today (May 3) in Nature. The study looks at droplet transmission of the virus in a ferret animal model. Ferrets are … Continue reading Bird flu viruses have potential to cause a ‘human pandemic’

‘Lab-created H5N1 viruses removed natural barriers’

Published in The Hindu on February 2, 2012 In two articles published today (February 2) in Nature, members of the United States National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) have for the first time gone on record explaining the reasons behind their decision to “recommend” both Science and Nature to publish only the redacted (censored) … Continue reading ‘Lab-created H5N1 viruses removed natural barriers’

Censorship won’t stop bird flu contagion

Published in The Hindu on January 27, 2015 The United States National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) decision to “recommend” that Science and Nature journals publish only redacted versions of bird flu research results is nothing but an exaggerated and over-zealous reaction that is bound to fail in its prime objective. Most of the … Continue reading Censorship won’t stop bird flu contagion