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Novel avian influenza A virus has potential for both virulence and transmissibility in humans
Date:9/9/2013

attachment patterns seen with human influenza viruses with high transmissibility but low virulence (seasonal H3N2 and pandemic H1N1) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses with low transmissibility and high virulence (H5N1 and H7N7).

They found that like other avian influenza viruses, the H7N9 viruses attached more strongly to lower parts of the human respiratory tract than to upper parts. However, compared to other avian influenza viruses, the attachment to epithelial cells by H7N9 in the bronchioles and alveoli of the lung was more abundant and the viruses attached to a broader range of cell types. "These characteristics fit with increased virulence of these emerging avian H7 viruses compared to that of human influenza viruses," says Dr. Kuiken.

A third notable finding was a more concentrated attachment of H7N9 viruses in ciliated cells of the nasal concha, trachea, and bronchi, suggesting the potential for efficient transmission among humans. "However, the fact that the emerging H7N9 virus has caused infection mainly in individual human cases suggests that it has not acquired all the necessary properties for efficient transmission among humans," notes Dr. Kuiken.

"Our results indicate that based just on the pattern of virus attachment the H7N9 currently emerging in China has the potential both to cause severe pulmonary disease and to be efficiently transmitted among humans," says Dr. Kuiken. He emphasizes that attachment is only the first step in the replication cycle of influenza virus in its host cell, and that other steps, as well as the host response, need to be taken into account to fully understand the potential of these emerging H7 viruses to cause an influenza pandemic.


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Contact: Eileen Leahy
ajpmedia@elsevier.com
732-238-3628
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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