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Study uncovers a lethal secret of 1918 influenza virus

ature of the most virulent influenza viruses.

In the new study, conducted in a high-level biosafety laboratory (BSL 4) at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, seven primates were infected with the reconstructed 1918 virus. Clinical signs of disease were apparent within 24 hours of infection and within eight days euthanization was necessary. The rapid course of the disease mirrors how quickly the disease ran its course in its human victims in 1918.

Upon infection, the virus grew rapidly in the infected animals, suggesting the agent somehow sets the stage for virulent infection: "Somehow, early in infection, this virus does something to the host that allows it to grow really well," says Kawaoka. "But we don't know what that is."

Knowing that the virus does something early in infection to trigger such a devastating immune response may provide biomedical researchers with clues about how to intervene and stop or mitigate the virus' potentially lethal effects, Kawaoka says.

"Things may be happening at an early time point (in infection), but we may be able to step in and stop that reaction."
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Source:University of Wisconsin-Madison


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